"Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a a neurodegenerative disorder" according the Parkinson's Foundation. The disease causes tremors, limb rigidity, slowness of movement, and gait and balance problems.
Gait and balance problems increase the possibility of falls which can lead to more serious injury. Dr. Sunil Agrawal, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at Columbia University, and members of his ROAR Lab have developed a robotic device called the TPAD (Tethered Pelvic Assist Device). The robot is a cable driven robot which causes disturbances to the pelvis by applying a pull force through the cables attached to a harness around the pelvis.
Recently, the device has proven to improve balance in patients with Parkinson's Disease. When a person is walking on the TPAD, they are forced to correct the disturbance. Therefore, patients with gait and balance problems, such as Parkinson's patients, are able to train their neuromuscular system to respond to a fall situation and recover more quickly.
Watch the CBS segment about Dr. Agrawal's TPAD device, "New Balance Test Offers Hope for Parkinson's Patients."