Yesterday was World Parkinson’s Day – Parkinson’s disease is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease, common in the elderly. More than 10 million people are currently living with the disease worldwide. STEM is contributing to help sufferers of the disease in a variety of ways.
In 2018, China launched its first outpatient service map for patients, which helps sufferers in China easily get information on hospitals with special clinics for the disease. The guidance map has helped patients easily locate outpatient clinics for timely treatment, and receive standardised and long-term treatment and disease management.
Besides personnel in the medical field, tech companies are making their own contributions to making the patients’ lives easier. A stabilising handle which can be attached to spoons and forks helps people counteract hand tremor so that the food won’t be shaken out of the utensil.
In advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, a patient may also experience a sudden inability to step forward. Dutch scientists from the University of Twente and Radboud University Medical Center developed laser shoes to tackle the problem. Each shoe has a laser projector and will let out a laser beam in front of the other shoe when stepping on the ground. They then give the wearer visual targets to step over.
Also in China, for those who don’t respond to medication or have serious complications, deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is now being used. It consists of tiny electrodes implanted into a certain area of the brain to send impulses to specific brain nuclei to treat functional brain disorders. The brain pacemaker acts like a switch in the patient’s brain, which can significantly reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tardiness, movement disorders, muscle stiffness, and tremors, as well as the side effects of medication.