Mobility problems caused by Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Huntington, are very patient specific. If you want to know what happens inside the brain at the moment movement is disturbed, you can only find out when the patient is mobile. The University of Twente, together with the Radboud University and three companies, will therefore develop a mobile measuring system for EEG signals and blood flow in the brain. Based on these data, the system can develop a personal strategy for coping with the movement disorder.
Motor system problems caused by diseases like Parkinson, are very disabling in itself. In turn, they can lead to a series of complications like injuries caused by falling. An example is ‘freeze of gait’ (FOG): while walking, a Parkinson patient suddenly is blocked in his or her movement. It is possible to compensate for this, for example by using special laser shoes or offering a rhythmic signal. This is called ‘cueing’. But it is not known when these techniques have to start working, they aren’t predictive.
More detailed and personal information becomes available by measuring both EEG and blood flow in the brain, combining these data with balance detection. Testing this in hospital, while the patient is sitting of lying down, doesn’t make much sense. He or she should be mobile, and measurements should be possible in several types of environments the patient is - or is not - familiar with.
The new system will make use of a mobile EEG detection system, combined with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)– an optical technique for detecting blood flow, giving valuable extra information to EEG. This will be combined with, for example, balance and fall detection using a smartphone or wearable sensors. Combining the measured data using smart algorithms, a personalized advice or ‘cueing strategy’ will be developed, for preventing the patient from falling.
In the new PROMPT project (Personalized care and Research on Motoric-dysfunctioning for Patient-Specific Treatments), scientists of the University of Twente (TechMed Centre, Biomedical Signals and Systems group) and Radboud University (Donders Institute for brain, cognition and behavior) collaborate. The project leader is Prof Richard van Wezel, who works at both universities. One of the UT researchers involved is Dr Ciska Heida.
The scientists collaborate with three companies: ANT Neuro is a UT spinoff specialized in mobile EEG measurement systems, Artinis Medical Systems works on fNRIS wearables, Orikami in data processing. ParkinsonNet, the Dutch network of health care professionals working with Parkinson patients, is involved as well.
PROMPT is financially made possible by the European Regional Development Fund (EFRO), in the ‘Op Oost’ programme for the Eastern part of the Netherlands. The project will be running for three years and has an overall budget of around 5 million euros.