Assisting Patients with Parkinson's

The BIG & LOUD Calibration Mat

 
 

The Challenge

Help a major pharmaceutical company develop ideas for devices that can alleviate and manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and help patients live eaiser lives.

 

 
 

 

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with no cure or treatment. Current medications and therapy only manage symptoms, which is harder to do as the disease progresses and symptoms become worse. Patients have to deal with symptoms that greatly affect their movement and mobility, such as tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability. All of which can make everyday life very difficult.

Was it possible to make patients lives a little bit easier?

Idea Couture and our client wanted to know if there were non-medical methods that could help. Myself and the rest of the design team at Idea Couture brainstormed ideas.

 

 
 First conceptual prototype made from tape.

First conceptual prototype made from tape.

 

 

The concept that I developed was the calibration mat. This device was inspired by the Parkinson’s therapy program known as BIG and LOUD. The mat is designed to be an aid for patients when they are performing their BIG and LOUD exercises without the assistance of a  therapist. By putting low-tech functionality and design into the exercise mat, users can practice a number of exercises they do during physiotherapy sessions at home. Soft, collapsible obstacles can be used by users to practice walking around objects or over them. In addition to obstacles, the mat has a number of visual cues designed onto it so patients can practice sidestepping, turning and other walking or balance exercises. By performing these exercises, patients can help delay the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms.

 

Highlights

  • To help alleviate symptoms such as festinating gait and poor balance, Parkinson’s patients enroll in specially designed and intensive physiotherapy exercises.
  • Patients can bring these exercises to the home with the aid of a special exercise mat. The mat is designed with visual cues that guide the user through their exercises.
  • The mat helps patients slow down the progression of symptoms. 

 

 
 2nd Prototype

2nd Prototype

IMG_20150722_132705.jpg
 

 

The Outcome

Through preliminary research and ideation, the exercise mat was one of 10 concepts that were selected for further exploration. I developed the concept further through iterative prototypes informed by more published research. Eventually, this concept along with the rest were showcased for selection by the client, of which the exercise mat was the only one selected for further development by the client's own R&D team. There it would undergo user testing and further development  in the hope of becoming an effective tool in assisting patients with Parkinson's.