A wearable device that helps improve balance and gait in patients with peripheral neuropathy is now on the market and available by prescription, according to its developer, RxFunction of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nervous system, and is most commonly associated with chronic diabetes. Those with the condition may lose feeling in the feet, interfering with walking and balance.
The rechargeable device, called Walkasins®, fits around the foot and over the lower legs and delivers sensory signals to alert the brain to a loss of balance, according to the company’s website. Leaning too far in any direction triggers a vibration on that side of the leg, signaling the user to correct balance.
A long-term clinical trial of the device is now in process and the company has plans to offer its product within the Veterans Administration, said CEO Tom Morizio in a statement. In an earlier trial, conducted by researchers from the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Minnesota, a majority of participants showed improved gait and balance outcomes after a brief session with a physical therapist, the investigators wrote.
Development of Walkasins® was supported by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, the company reports.