Synthesis of Walking Sounds for Alleviating Gait Disturbances in Parkinson’s Disease

M.W.M. Rodger, W.R. Young, C.M. Craig

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)


    Managing gait disturbances in people with Parkinson’s disease is a pressing challenge, as symptoms can contribute to injury and morbidity through an increased risk of falls. While drug-based interventions have limited efficacy in alleviating gait impairments, certain non-pharmacological methods, such as cueing, can also induce transient improvements to gait. The approach adopted here is to use computationally-generated sounds to help guide and improve walking actions. The first method described uses recordings of force data taken from the steps of a healthy adult which in turn were used to synthesize realistic gravel-footstep sounds that represented different spatio-temporal parameters of gait, such as step duration and step length. The second method described involves a novel method of sonifying, in real time, the swing phase of gait using real-time motion-capture data to control a sound synthesis engine. Both approaches explore how simple but rich auditory representations of action based events can be used by people with Parkinson’s to guide and improve the quality of their walking, reducing the risk of falls and injury. Studies with Parkinson’s disease patients are reported which show positive results for both techniques in reducing step length variability. Potential future directions for how these sound approaches can be used to manage gait disturbances in Parkinson’s are also discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)543-548
    Number of pages6
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 25 Oct 2013


    • Biomedical acoustics, Audio user interfaces , Patient rehabilitation , Sensory aids


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