Chiara Rossi

Award made: January 2020

Chiara Rossi, 5th year Product Design Engineering

Sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease often experience a  debilitating symptom called ‘Freezing of Gait’ where their brain fails to send signals to the lower half of the body and they effectively get stuck in the one spot which leads to falls and serious injury.

Chiara has learned that audio, visual and sensory prompts can get a user moving again after freezing and her project consists of developing two elements. The first will predict the freezing episodes before they occur using sensors to measure the user’s heart rate, rate of walking and stride length. The second will be activated by the sensors when the signs of a pre-freezing episode occur, and will produce visual, audio and sensory cues that will help the user’s mobility and limit the severity of the freezing episode.

The project will consist of prototyping various combinations of cues and prompts and testing their success rate with the focus group Chiara has set up with people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Once the optimum prompts have been developed and tested, she will develop a user-friendly wearable device. She intends to investigate several types of sensor to ensure accuracy and reliability when detecting a freezing of gait episode. The sensors will form the second element of the project and ultimately she will be putting together a system where each component communicates.