Can a pair of socks help monitor the health and wellness of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease?
One company in Redmond thinks it’s possible.
Since 2010, Sensoria has made a name for itself developing wearable athletic apparel such as socks, shirts, and sports bras with built-in sensors that track distance, steps, and calories burned, while also monitoring an individual’s heart rate, balance, stride, foot-strike technique, cadence, and weight distribution as they walk, run, or engage in other exercise activities. The information is transmitted to a smart phone app that records and interprets the data.
Sensoria’s products are available on its website and Amazon.com, and marketed to athletes. Now, the company is entering the healthcare space, aiming to help physicians care for their patients.
“Smart footwear and wearable sensors have the potential to change the way in which physicians, patients, and the entire population view healthcare,” explained Davide Vigano, Sensoria’s CEO and co-founder.
As an example, Vigano, a former Microsoft software developer, noted Sensoria, along with researchers in Australia, was awarded a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to help study the gaits of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which directly affects about 10 million people worldwide.
One way doctors can diagnose and monitor the disease and its progression is by putting patients through a series of walking tests conducted in a hospital or clinical setting, according to Vigano and the team of researchers. Through the foundation’s funding, more than 100 Parkinson’s patients will be outfitted with Sensoria’s smart socks, which will monitor mobility and locomotion, such as step-time variability, freezing of gait, and falls, without having to visit a clinic or hospital setting. The information will be transmitted from the smart socks to the researchers via wireless technology.
Sensoria also has partnered with researchers to develop footwear that will monitor foot pressure in patients receiving treatment for diabetic foot ulcers in order to reduce the risk of amputations. It also is working with researchers to develop a device to aid caregivers at assisted living facilities, sending alerts when a resident wakes up or is about to experience a fall.
“It’s a completely new breed of devices, and we are super-excited about this,” Vigano said.
And while the company still offers wearable apparel that monitors the health of athletes and weekend warriors, offering the same technology to the healthcare space is where Vigano would like see Sensoria move forward.
“We are not trying to replace the hospital systems,” he added. “But if we can do this (monitor health) for healthy people (through our athletic gear), we can do this for patients, as well.”