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August 31, 2016

Fanshawe College has collaborated with researchers at Movement Disorder Diagnostic Technologies Inc. (MDDT), a locally-based medical device company to create a prototype of a motion capture suit and tremor arm sleeve to be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of Parkinson's patients.

Using the suit, researchers will be able to more accurately report and assess tremors. Accurate assessment of tremors is vital when it comes to determining the correct dosage of Levodopa – an initial pharmacological therapy for patients with Parkinson's.

MDDT collaborated with Fanshawe's School of Design to create a prototype suit that can be adapted for home assessment and mass production for commercialization. The suit has incorporated the software MDDT uses to capture data from sensors placed at fixed points across the body. Data obtained from the suit will be used in the ongoing monitoring and assessment of patients with Parkinson's disease.

Photo of motion capture suit
Fanshawe graduate Louise Marchand (left) adjusts belts on the motion capture suit. Marchand and Fanshawe design professors designed the suit to be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of Parkinson's patients.

Additionally, the suit features design elements that would ensure ease of use for Parkinson's patients with a wide variety of tremor activity and varying body types, while still being washable and durable over many uses.

“The collaborative efforts between MDDT and Fanshawe College allowed us to address an unmet patient need in medicine,” says Jack Lee, chief technology officer at MDDT. “We are grateful for the design by recent Fanshawe graduate Louise Marchand, with guidance from Fanshawe design professors, which incorporates comfort and practicality into new medical technology.”

Features of the suit include:

  • Large, easy to use zippers and belting features designed for hand tremor patients in mind;
  • Mesh underlay for breathability in long-use situations;
  • Anti-skid fabric features to tighten the sensor pockets against the body to more accurately read tremors;
  • Two-piece design (top and bottom) for ease of use for wearer;
  • Pockets for 51 sensors (as a part of a larger unit) located at key areas across the body.

Fanshawe College's School of Design has also designed a prototype TremorTek sleeve based on an earlier design by MDDT. The non-invasive experimental TremorTek sleeve is used in the treatment of tremor for patients with Parkinson's disease and can be also used in other tremor disorders.

The sleeve contains multiple sensors that can analyze complex movements with a high degree of accuracy. Using the data from the sleeve, doctors are able to isolate specific areas for the arm muscle to guide drug treatments, reducing tremors over the course of seven to 10 days. The prototype created allows for use by multiple practitioners and caregivers when monitoring tremor treatments at the hospital or at home.

“This project demonstrates the trend towards cross-sector research and innovation activities and, in this case, by the merging of fashion with technology to develop a product for the health sector,” says Dan Douglas, dean of Fanshawe's Centre for Research and Innovation. “Projects such as this have an immediate and substantial impact for industry partners and those they serve while providing valuable experiences for our student researchers.”

The project was funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Reesearch Council of Canada (NSERC).

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