The Young Star of Pakistan Neha Shahid Chaudhary is a Pakistani origin student at the University Of West England. she came with an excellent innovation to assist the patients of Parkinson’s disease.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease may be a chronic disorder that’s progressive and affects the movement of the patient.
A progressive disorder refers to the one that keeps worsening over time. The causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown, and a correct cure is yet not discovered. the symptoms can be managed to some extent through the process of medication and surgeries.
This disease affects the neurons in the brain, causing malfunctioning. It primarily affects the area of the brain called substantia nigra. Some of these affected or dying nerves do the work of manufacturing a chemical called dopamine. This chemical sends messages there to a part of the brain which is related to controlling the movement.
As the disease progresses, the quantity of dopamine keeps decreasing, and it affects the physical movement of body parts.
The basic symptom that starts occurring from an early stage is that the tremor. the disease affects the movement, slowing it down. The more severe symptoms include stiffness of limbs and imbalanced coordination.
What Is Neha Shahid Chaudhry’s Invention?
Neha has invented an innovative walking stick, that’s being called a ‘game-changer’ for the patients of Parkinson’s disease.
The way of working of the stick
The ‘walk to beat’ stick produces vibration, inducing movement within the frozen muscles.
This enables the person to steer and help to retain their mobility and independence.
This stick can sense when the patient’s limbs are seized and starts vibrating accordingly. This aids the body part to gain rhythm, assisting the patient to walk again.
Results of this invention
It already has shown positive results in England. According to Neha, this stick has helped over 12,000 students patients in the UK alone.
The stick can benefit thousands of patients around the world. To stay people’s attention faraway from the patients, the planning of the stick has been kept simple and plain.
Reson behind Neha’s Invention
Having witnessed the disease from close, Neha invented this stick after her circle of relatives suffered from the ailment repeatedly. Particularly, her father sustained serious injuries due to the seizure of his muscles and his inability to walk.
Seeking pride in her achievement, Neha in an interview said, “the success of this invention is her biggest accomplishment thus far”. Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have the correct treatment so far. therefore the medication only delays the consequences of the disease temporarily. Neha also told in this interview that she started this invention as her university’s final year project, in 2014.
“I spent a few months doing research, meet up with patients, going to care homes, and attending Parkinson’s UK drop-in sessions. More than the disease itself, an enormous problem is its impact on social lives. Some other products for people with Parkinson’s have a stigma attached to them. They appear like products for disabled people,” said Neha in an interview. “When I was doing this work, I thought I’m doing it for the benefit of others, not for my own”. “I started this work due to my grandfather and once I meet patients, they remind me of my grandfather. It is something I can relate to very easily.
By conducting research, Neha found an easy solution to remedy this particular aspect of the illness. Neha developed this idea as her final year research project during her Bachelor’s degree at the University of the West of England. She made an initial sample of the walking stick which she incubated at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
Structure of the stick
The structure of the walking stick operates using haptic vibrations; the handle of the stick is provided with a tool. It provides a vibrating pulse-like sensation to the person holding the stick serving as an impulse to continue the movement. The rhythmic pulse allows patients to match the pace of their movement with the beating. She also incorporated a recording sensor within the stick. It will record the time and duration of the freezing episode that supported their walking patterns. Neha believes this is an important modification. It will help doctors and health care professionals to understand better the disease and its implications on their patients.
The stick has been tested on tons of individuals in England. National Health Services (NHS) and Parkinson’s organization in England showed a deep interest in Neha’s incredible project.
Moreover, Neha established her own company by the name of ‘Walk to Beat’. Under this she began developing this product further. Neha and her team worked very hard and made efforts to improve this product. They made a minimum viable product. when the patients got the sticks they were overcome with immediate joy. Majority of them expressed satisfaction that the stick does work.
Qualities of this stick
Made of plastic, the sunshine weighted, easy-to-carry-around stick makes use of high-tech sensors installed in it. The sensors, thus, activate dead muscles and help the patients to maneuver around again.
Around 10 million people have Parkinson’s worldwide. According to the research of the National Parkinson Foundation, 38% of patients fall each year because of freezing muscles. It may happen without warning, anytime and anywhere, and can lead to injury.
Neha tested the walking persist with Parkinson’s patients making changes over 1 year supported patients’ feedback. She wanted to develop a product that is not only effective but is also aesthetically pleasing to reflect the needs of the patients. This battery-operated walking stick is rechargeable and once fully charged, it operates for 5 days. Each product has a life span of five years.
Farid Dailami, professor for Knowledge Exchange in Manufacturing at the Robotics Innovation Facility remarked:
“The Walk to Beat” walking stick can make a true difference to the lives of people affected by Parkinson’s disease. We are looking forward to providing further support and helping to realize its potential.”