New app helping people with Parkinson’s Disease

A new app, co-designed by people with Parkinson’s Disease, has been launched to help those living with the condition learn to walk better and for longer.

A team led by UNSW Sydney biomedical engineer Dr Matthew A Brodie developed the Walking Tall app following a clinical trial funded by Shake It Up Australia Foundation and the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Part of the trial utilised the app’s gait re-training tool which now allows users to set their own training time and pace before delivering a rhythmic metronomic beat for three different walking speeds that is designed to trigger movement.

The app, which is free to download from the iOS and Android stores, also includes useful instructions such as ‘walk tall’, ‘shoulders back’ and ‘focus on big steps’, as well as providing encouragement via audio commentary.

While the majority of people take walking for granted, those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can find it a major challenge given the fact nerve cells deep in their brain responsible for planning and controlling body movement do not fully function.

“Those who live with Parkinson’s Disease have to think about every single step they take. We asked them how much mental effort it takes for them to walk, and often they would say 100 per cent,” Dr Bodie says.