You may have seen a recent episode of the TODAY show which highlighted a fascinating device developed at Stanford University – a glove that imparts vibration to the fingertips in order to relieve Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms. In a small trial, participants wore the glove on each hand for several hours a day. The results showed that the device alleviated tremor, stiffness, and slowness in PD, even during the times of day when they were not wearing the device. Many people have seen this video clip and want to know how to get access to this technology.
It is important to note, that the concept of treating PD symptoms with vibration is not new. There have been multiple clinical trials performed to determine if either whole-body vibration or localized vibration can help symptoms with PD. A recent review analyzed the results of these trials and determined that whole body vibration was not better than standard physical therapy in improving gait and balance. No conclusion could be made regarding localized vibration as the results were too varied across different trials.
In addition to the Stanford research group, there have been other research teams that have worked on developing devices to utilize vibration as a means of easing PD symptoms. Researchers have worked on socks and shoe inserts that administer vibration to alleviate symptoms of freezing of gait. Neither of these devices are developed to the point that they have received FDA clearance for treatment of PD.
Additional trials are now being planned. The glove is currently not available for purchase and obtaining access to the glove at this point is only possible through the clinical trial.
One of the most exciting aspects of this research is that vibration therapy has minimal to no side effects, which makes its potential introduction as a therapy much more straightforward. As the next clinical trial unfolds, it will also be interesting for the research team to note if there are certain people who have a more robust response to vibration therapy than others.
APDA applauds the Stanford University research team for their work and looks forward to future results from their trials!
The vibratory glove is part of a larger research effort to maximize the use of technology to help diagnose and treat neurological illness. APDA is proud to be currently funding the following projects that are part of that wider endeavor: