LASERWALK: Improving Mobility and Preventing Falls with Visual Cues

Person pressing a button on a walker using their finger

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Karen Hall, Clinical Manager

Project Title: The LASERWALK to improve mobility and prevents falls using visual cueing

What is the issue?

Older adults with Parkinson’s disease lose the ability to walk as their disease progresses. They develop an unstable gait and may freeze while walking or shuffling their feet. These symptoms can lead to falls and injury. There are only a few technologies available that aim to improve walking but they do not adequately meet users’ needs.

What did we do?

We created a device called LASERWALK that projects a laser light on a walking path. It attaches to a mobility aid, such as a cane or a walker. The laser helps individuals walk safely and independently. Our goal was to refine a prototype device and make it ready for marketWe sourced an appropriate laser and designed a clamp to attach the device.  

What did we find?

We tested multiple lasers in indoor and outdoor settings. A green laser line worked best. Users who tested the device said that the light was easy to see in many places. The majority of individuals who tried the device showed improved ability to walk independently. Many of them said it helped them feel more confident and at less risk of falling when walking. We continue to design a mounting system that will attach to a variety of makes and models of mobility aids.