Office for Technology Commercialization

Ataxic Gait Treatment using Sensory Stimulation

Technology #20150078

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Parkinsonian GaitBalance DisorderAtaxic Gait
Khalaf Bushara, MD
Professor, Department of Neurology; Director of the University of Minnesota Ataxia Center
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Kevin Anderson
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-8293
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending 20150209216

Treatment for Gait and Balance Disorders

Gait and balance disorders such as freezing gait, ataxic gait, vestibular dysfunction, swaying and other manifestations of neurological or physical conditions may benefit from a new sensory stimulation device. The device may also help with imbalance deficits in the elderly. The device works in tandem with a subject’s footstep to provide mechanical stimulation to one or more parts of the foot or lower extremities. For example, when the subject steps and exerts pressure on the heel, the device triggers a tactile stimulation of another area, such as the ball of foot. This somatosensory stimulation of the feet provides additional sensory feedback from the brain and can improve stance, balance and gait.

Unfreezes Parkinsonian Gait

Freezing gait, common in Parkinson's disease patients, is associated with repeated forefoot pressure in an attempt to start a step. By leveraging this pressure to trigger stimulation of another area of the foot when needed, the gait freeze can be unlocked, thus restoring mobility.

Sensory Stimulation for Pain Relief

The technology may also help control pain through a gate control theory mechanism, such as that provided by TENS units. Non-painful stimuli in or near a source of pain has been shown to modulate the brain’sresponse to pain. Stimulation from the device may relieve pain from peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, bone spurs or other orthopedic conditions in the foot, ankle or even the knee.


  • May restore mobility in Parkinson’s patients suffering from freezing gait
  • Promising results in treating gait problems, balance disorders, swaying and pain
  • Maintenance free and lightweight: non-electric device operates without vibrators, electric apparatus, or batteries
  • Flexible configuration allows device to work with a variety of trigger sites as well as a variety of stimulation locations for different conditions

Phase of Development - Prototype Dev