A pioneering research by scientists at University of Sydney to study a problem called ' freezing of gait' which occurs in most Parkinson's patients is underway using a blend of MRI and virtual reality to understand this phenomenon.
This condition causes patients to freeze and find themselves unable to move their feet when they need to make their way through narrow passages and doorway. As a result, falls are common among victims of Parkinson's.
Explaining the positive impact of this study, Dr. Simon Lewis, director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, said, "Our preliminary results show that patients with FOG have a delay in their stepping pattern when passing though doorways in the VR. We didn't see this in patients without FOG or in healthy control subjects. Furthermore, we have been able to correlate the amount of freezing experienced in VR with that observed during physical assessment in the clinic. Finally, as VR allows patients to walk whilst lying down we have even been able to use our novel brain scanning technique to see what is going on in the brain during freezing episodes."