For seniors with Parkinson’s disease, steadiness and balance are common problems in the moderate and advanced stages of the disorder. There is new hope for improving balance in the form of a small, portable device that administers electrical stimulation to those areas of the brain affecting balance. Read on to learn more, shared by Home Care Assistance of Jefferson County.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have developed a handheld electronic stimulator to decrease balance-related symptoms of Parkinson’s. The hand held stimulator operates similarly to a TENS unit. A TENS unit has been long used to decrease pain by providing electronic stimulation to the affected muscle area. But instead of stimulating a muscle, the Parkinson’s unit provides electronic stimulation behind the ears to the areas of the brain affecting balance and motor activity.
The stimulation is intended to mimic the electrical activity in the brain that is lost due to the body’s inability to manufacture dopamine, and the amount of electricity used is too insignificant to cause residual damage to the body. Research was performed in patients before and after taking typical Parkinson’s medication, levodopa. Results demonstrated both improved brain activity and muscle motor control. Initial experiments were conducted on rats but have since moved to Swedish Parkinson’s patients.
The device was constructed with assistance from NASA and is not yet ready for commercial use. However, researchers are hopeful this device will be ready for the public in as little as five years. In addition to helping people with Parkinson’s improve balance, gait, and day-to-day motor skills, scientists hope this device will help improve symptoms of other conditions as well.
If your senior loved one is living with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Through our hourly and live-in care in Jefferson County, we can ensure your loved one has all the support he or she needs to maintain mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing in the comfort of home. Call (303) 987-5992 today and request an free in-home consultation to learn more.