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Non-invasive intervention for motor signs of Parkinson's disease: the effect of vibratory stimuli

Antonella Macerollo, Christian Holz, Daniel Cletheroe, Julio Vega, Joshua Moody, Greg Saul, Nadzeya Paleyes, Nicolas Villar, Prasad Korlipara, Thomas Foltynie, Patricia Limousin, Haiyan Zhang, and James Kilner. BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the use of peripheral vibration to ameliorate some of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The possibility that peripheral vibration can improve patients’ motor symptoms is exciting as the intervention is non-invasive and of low cost. However, there remains little published scientific research to support some of the claims. We report the results of testing whether a wearable haptic device (the ‘Emma Watch’), which delivers constant vibratory stimuli at the wrist, significantly improves motor function of the stimulated upper limb in patients with PD. We found that 200 Hz peripheral vibration at 60 bpm modulation applied during the performance of different tasks of a total of 16 patients with PD on medication improved performance related to movement speed as well as precision of performance on our tracing motor control tasks. In contrast, peripheral vibration at 200Hz with 20 bpm had no significant effect on motor performance.