Continuous Monitoring of Functional Activities and Movement Disorders in Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

wagenaarRobert Wagenaar, Ph.D.coulter_monitors2
Professor – Physical Therapy and Athletic Training
Director – Center for Neurorehabilitation


photo of Dr. VainaLucia Vaina, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor – Biomedical Eng
Research Professor of Neurology – BU School of Medicine


In the aging population the prevalence (between 128 and 187 out of 100,000) and annual incidence of Parkinson’s disease (PD; 20 out of 100,000) in the United States are increasing (Ng, 1996), with the average onset at approximately 60 years of age when those concerned are still in the prime of their life.  The medical treatment of PD mainly consists of dopamine replacement therapy, dopamine agonists and in some cases surgery. After a variable number of years medical treatment becomes ineffective and the severely disabled subjects with PD may potentially have to spend the rest of their lives in extended care facilities.  Given the large number of people diagnosed with PD, the progressive nature of the disease and the short duration of medication effectiveness, it is critical to monitor activities of daily life (ADLs) and the impact that rehabilitation may have on slowing the disease progression, maximizing Quality of Life (QoL) and day-to-day function while minimizing burden on society. Individuals with PD benefit from physical therapy in terms of ADLs and QoL. In particular, external cueing has a high impact on functional activities with, however, limited carry-over (or follow-up) effects. Hence, it is important to monitor and repeatedly provide exercises to patients over time.

OBJECTIVE: To develop a small wireless functional activity monitor (FAM) to continuously record functional activities and disordered movement patterns in individuals with Parkinson’s disease in the home and community setting and treat movement disorders by providing instantaneous feedback to improve functional activities; improving their day-to-day function and quality of life.  The devices continuously record functional activities, are small, easy to apply and non-obtrusive, and can provide treatment using external cues via immediate sensory feedback to patients.


Center of Neurorehabilitation

Brain and Vision Laboratory