Clinical trial will explore how Sensoria's smart socks can help Parkinson's patients

The 100-patient study is a collaboration between Sensoria, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Neuroscience Research Australia.
By Jonah Comstock
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Smart sock maker Sensoria is teaming up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation and independent research group Neuroscience Research Australia to launch a 100-patient clinical trial looking at what smart textiles in socks can do for Parkinson’s disease patients.

The trial, called Standing Tall-PD, is supported by a grant from MJFF. The first part of the study will test the potential for smart textiles to improve Parkinson’s care by collecting more data and serving it to providers. The second part will actually test a haptic feedback motor in the socks that Sensoria execs say can free a patient from freeze of gait (FoG) and potentially prevent falls.

“If you think about this type of population, the aging population, it is quite frankly underserved by technology innovation,” Sensoria CEO Davide Vigano told MobiHealthNews. “The traditional medical technologies are perceived as a stigma, and wearable technology simply doesn’t provide the right information to make diagnostic decisions. So what we are building with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, thanks to the grant we were just awarded, is a special type of IoT sock with pressure sensors and also haptic feedback.”

Why it matters

One reason Parkinson’s disease is such a focus area for remote monitoring innovation is that the status quo is so poor.

“Most of the Parkinson’s patients need to go to a clinic every two weeks to get gait assessments, which means there’s a medical assistant there that monitors how quickly and how well the patient can walk, and there is a correlation between that and progression of the disease,” Vigano said. “… That traditional testing that every single Parkinson’s patient has to do every two weeks, we can do that multiple times a day to get this kind of data.”

Vigano said that with this kind of real-time monitoring, doctors could be alerted immediately when a patient is getting worse, allowing them to investigate whether, for instance, a patient isn’t adhering to their medication or their medication isn’t working.

As for the interventional piece, falls are a major risk for Parkinson’s patients in part because of FoG, where patients suddenly lose the ability to move their legs. Using small vibrating motors, Sensoria has shown in small trials that they can actually return agency to patients.

What’s the trend

Smart sock company Sensoria, originally called Heapsylon, has been one of the earliest and most persistent players in the still-young smart clothing space. The company has had some success with fitness-focused offerings, but has also focused on health. It partnered with Genesis Rehab Services to spin off Sensoria Health last year, and the company has looked into the technology’s potential for a number of health areas including diabetes and fall prevention.