Vibrating patch helps with mobility in Parkinson’s patients

Parkinson’s patients are beginning to be offered a special wearable device that helps to minimise issues with their movement. The CUE1 patch is placed on the sternum and delivers a high-frequency buzz when pressed in order to stimulate the nervous system and areas of the brain that affect motor control and balance.

The neurological condition is known to cause muscles to become rigid and prevent movement, limiting everyday life. First-hand accounts from those who’ve already started to use the device say it’s improved their walking and sleeping, as well as making them feel relaxed. There’s even been reports of some users being able to dance again.

So far, 138 people have been fitted with a CUE1 device and a further 8,000 patients are currently on the waiting list. It’s made by British company Charco Neurotech, but is not yet available on the NHS so costs users £295 each.

Dr Lucy Chung, CEO and co-founder of Charco, told MailOnline: “It helps put the body in a ready-to-move state, while reducing stiffness and slowness. We advise patients to use it as and when they need – for instance, if they’re suffering symptoms of stiffness or rigidity, or if they freeze. Some leave it switched on all day.”

When it’s fully charged, the battery can last up to eight hours before needing to be plugged in. The makers say they will issue a full refund to anyone who isn’t entirely satisfied. One in ten of those who’ve bought the CUE1 device have requested a refund since it was launched in October last year.

It’s estimated 140,000 people in the UK are living with Parkinson’s disease, which causes tremors; depression and anxiety; memory loss; and reduced sense of smell. While it’s unclear what causes the condition, areas of the brain become damaged over time and symptoms get progressively worse.

The main symptoms are most commonly treated with drugs and physiotherapy, but in some cases deep brain stimulation is carried out. This operation involves implanting electrodes in the skull. Some CUE1 users are reporting improvements comparable to the benefits of the surgery, which could make it a viable non-invasive alternative.

Photo credit: Pixabay/StockSnap

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