Researchers at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David are leading the way in the use of advanced manufacturing technologies to develop ground-breaking products, including a device which is helping people with Parkinson’s disease to walk without falling.
The team from the Wales Centre for Advanced Batch Manufacture (CBM) worked with the company Walk With Path to help them create Path Finder, a device which supports the mobility of people suffering with freezing of gait – where Parkinson’s patients find that they are suddenly unable to move their legs and often fall as a result.
Path Finder is a laser light cueing device which attaches to a shoe and projects a horizontal line on the ground in front of the user at a set distance from the feet. This gives the wearer a visual cue to step across and acts as an external stimulus to trigger walking. A prototype had already been made which proved the principle, and CBM was asked to help develop this into a commercial product.
Working closely with Walk With Path and potential users, CBM detailed each component in 3D computer-aided design before manufacturing three sets of working prototypes for extensive user testing. A full set of 2D control drawings were produced for manufacture and within 12 months, Walk With Path launched the device.