USC Research Team Completes Pilot Study on Parkinson’s Disease

USC Research Team Completes 3-year Pilot Study on Parkinson’s Disease Using SMARTfit

Gamified Dual-Task Training for Individuals with Parkinson Disease: An Exploratory Study on Feasibility, Safety, and Efficacy

Exercise and physical therapy (PT) have become central features of the treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and is considered disease-modifying. A University of Southern California (USC) study is the first to evaluate the feasibility of employing an innovative gamified training platform for PD https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/23/12384/ . The platform, SMARTfit, facilitates visual-tactile interaction and is ideal for dual-task training. The study was co-led by Dr. Charles Liu and Dr. Beth Fisher and was a collaboration between the USC’s Neurorestoration Center and the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

“Our SMARTfit technology is focused on the entire spectrum of human health and brain-body fitness,” said Cathi Lamberti, CEO of SMARTfit Inc. “This USC Neurorestoration Center-PT Biokinesiology study provides initial evidence that SMARTfit-based dual-task therapy may be better for Parkinson’s Disease patients compared with traditional single-task PT delivered by excellent therapists. Furthermore, we provide a solution that is both economical and scalable. SMARTfit is currently working with and supporting an estimated 600 sites in 14 countries where early adopters have tested many aspects of the technology.”

Dr Charles Liu, Director of the USC Neurorestoration Center, explains why he focused on Parkinson’s Disease for this research: “Many researchers have established the immense value of physical therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, including the coauthors of this paper. In fact, PT has become an essential component of PD treatment. However, good physical therapy is often not available to large numbers of PD patients, and this has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In this study, we wanted to explore the feasibility of using a novel device called SMARTfit as a tool for therapists to use dual-task cognitively engaged training in treating PD patients. Although the study included only a small cohort of patients, the results were quite promising, showing that dual-task training using SMARTfit may be better than singletask standard PT. Furthermore, SMARTfit dual-task training can be delivered by the therapist in a physical distancing way. We look forward to exploring this concept further.”

In announcing the results of the study, Dr. Beth Fisher, Professor of Clinical Physical Therapy and well-known for her work on PD, emphasized: “It’s all about practice, practice, practice, and SMARTfit is an efficient way to accomplish this.”

The study clearly demonstrated the feasibility and safety of using SMARTfit to deliver gamified dual-task training to PD patients. Furthermore, more patients in the small cohort studied had greater improvements in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores with SMARTfit’s gamified dual-task raining compared to a conventional well-designed single-task therapy program. The research team is conducting additional studies to further explore the benefits of SMARTfit for a variety of indications that benefit from physical therapy.

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