The laser shoes: A new ambulatory device to alleviate freezing of gait in Parkinson disease

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Abstract

Objective

To assess, in a cross-sectional study, the feasibility and immediate efficacy of laser shoes, a new ambulatory visual cueing device with practical applicability for use in daily life, on freezing of gait (FOG) and gait measures in Parkinson disease (PD).

Methods

We tested 21 patients with PD and FOG, both “off” and “on” medication. In a controlled gait laboratory, we measured the number of FOG episodes and the percent time frozen occurring during a standardized walking protocol that included FOG provoking circumstances. Participants performed 10 trials with and 10 trials without cueing. FOG was assessed using offline video analysis by an independent rater. Gait measures were recorded in between FOG episodes with the use of accelerometry.

Results

Cueing using laser shoes was associated with a significant reduction in the number of FOG episodes, both “off” (45.9%) and “on” (37.7%) medication. Moreover, laser shoes significantly reduced the percent time frozen by 56.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 32.5–85.8; p = 0.004) when “off” medication. The reduction while “on” medication was slightly smaller (51.4%, 95% CI −41.8 to 91.5; p = 0.075). These effects were paralleled by patients' positive subjective experience on laser shoes' efficacy. There were no clinically meaningful changes in the gait measures.

Conclusions

These findings demonstrate the immediate efficacy of laser shoes in a controlled gait laboratory, and offer a promising intervention with potential to deliver in-home cueing for patients with FOG.

Classification of evidence

This study provides Class III evidence that for patients with PD, laser shoes significantly reduce FOG severity (both number and duration of FOG episodes).

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