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Saath E- A walking aid for parkinson's disease patients

The fundamental idea of the proposed design is not only to support them while walking but also be a constant personal trainer for mobility.

Photo of phaneendra b
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls?

The design solution is for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, an area which requires special attention/care because as the disease progresses it results in stooped posture, shuffling gait, bradykinesia. Design is intended to support the patients while walking and helps the patient in gait training and maintain balance.

 Area of intervention: Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including stooped posture, tremors, shuffling Gait, bradykinesia.

As the disease progress people have difficulties in performing day to day activities like walking, sitting, standing up and other body movements. Mobility of the patients is one of the major area affected where they need constant support they need to perform regular exercises.


Major design cues taken from the case studies and from the interactions with the doctor.

  • Using an indirect approach to stimulate the brain through physiotherapy which helps in initiating movements.
  • Brain doesn’t know movements, Brain recognizes “function”. Through an indirect approach, we can force the brain to do a function.

            For example: While walking it doesn’t recognizes our legs are moving until and unless if there is an obstacle which forces the brain to act lift/move away from it. This functional approach to the brain helps in stimulating the brain.

  • Using forced exercises, we can achieve the same result as a Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery.
  • Continuous physiotherapy Sessions will reduce the effect of symptoms on the patients.

Design Idea:

The aim is to design a walking aid which helps the patient in gait training and improve the exercise (Walking) activities.

The underlying concept in the design is using an indirect approach, a module which gives visual and auditory cues for the patient to practice gait.

The visual aid consists of light projections on the ground, which patient has to follow as trails. When the module projects the left side light, patient has to place the left leg on the light projected on the ground and move further. Then the left light turns off and right side light is projected. Similarly, the patient has to do the same step for the right leg. As this process continues the patient gains the momentum to walk easily.

At some point patients can’t initiate movements while walking and they lose balance. So, there is a requirement for a momentary resting place. The existing rollators consists of a small seat where the patient has to turn around and sit, which is a difficult task for the patient in such circumstance.

This process of sitting should be in the direction of movement which is easier for the patient. Therefore, the proposed idea consists of a foldable seat, on one side which the patient has to push to form a platform just behind them. This process is more intuitive for the patient.

As a conclusion, the fundamental idea of the proposed design is not only to support them while walking but also be a constant personal trainer for mobility.

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What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I can build a low cost prototype and conduct user testing with patients in near by hospitals. I can collaborate with NGO's such as Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorder Society, Mumbai. Once the testing is done required modifications can be done from the feedback received from doctors and patients.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Opinions from any expertise in medical domain would be helpful. Also expert opinions from OpenIDEO team could be a great help in shaping up overall design right from prototyping, testing to modifications required and also to reach out to organisations dealing in such areas. Further collaboration with organisations will help to reach out to people across the world and design can be perceived at a global scale.

How long has your idea existed?

  • 4 months - 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a post graduate design student pursuing my masters in design from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. I did my under-graduate in mechanical engineering.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Phaneendra, Good job at identifying and solving for a major challenge with Parkinson's disease. My mother lived with the disease for 20+ years, struggled with foot placement, and fell many times. I like the simplicity of your design, and the thoughtfulness about the collapsing seat behind the person walking. I know some people with PD who used a hand held laser light pointed towards the floor to help them walk - having it incorporated into a rollator would allow them to concentrate more on their feet.

Do you have a way to fold the rollator so it would fit into an automobile for transport?

In the US, the National Parkinson Foundation would be a good organization to contact.

Photo of phaneendra b

Hi susan,
Thanks for your appreciation.
I am glad that the design would be helpful to address the major issue of people with parkinson's disease.
Yes, the rollator can be folded. It is designed in such a way that its easy to transport. I did not show the details of folding mechanism in the presentation, but i have considered the portability in design.

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