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Start-up innovation Path Finder inspired by father’s condition

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There are about 5 million people in the UK living with mobility related issues, and according to Age UK, 1 in 3 people aged 65 and over fall each year. Falls currently cost the NHS £2.3 billion yearly¹ and with the number of people over the age of 80 in the UK rising to 1 in 12 of the population by 2039² and the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease increasing by 28% by 2020³, falls will have major impact on healthcare costs in future.

Walk With Path, a health tech start-up, has developed Path Finder, an assistive aid to help those with walking abnormalities associated with Parkinson’s disease, the elderly and those suffering with other neurological conditions.

Lise Pape, Founder of Walk With Path, developed the award-winning innovation, Path Finder, while completing a degree in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London where part of the course was developing new innovations to solve problems. Lise’s father is one of 10 million people worldwide suffering from Parkinson’s disease that inspired her to develop Path Finder.

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“I initially came up with the idea for Path Finder when observing my father struggling with the effects of Parkinson’s disease and in particular, freezing of gait (FoG). Freezing would happen very often for him – several times during the day. It could happen when walking from the sofa to the kitchen, when setting the table or when going to the bathroom – basically, most of the time.

“My father had developed a coping strategy with his wife, whereby she placed her foot in front of his, when freezing happened. This process enabled him to step across her foot and it really seemed to work.”

Lise set about researching this phenomenon, experimenting by placing black tape in lines on the floor for people with freezing of gait to follow when walking. It worked! Leading Lise to develop Path Finder.

Path Finder is designed around the fact that visual cues trigger walking. The product fits onto the toe of your shoe, (the toe is normally the last part of your foot to move when you take a step), providing a coloured laser cue in front of the opposite foot. It has been preliminary tested at the Donders Institute in Holland by Parkinson’s patients, their carers and scientific experts with good results.

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The company, Walk With Path, was founded in November 2014 by Lise and one fellow student from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. They obtained funding from Health Social Innovators Programme at UCL in 2016. Apart from the initial team members Walk With Path now also employs specialist personnel to assist with trials and other medical aspects of the business as well as engineering.

Earlier this year, Path Finder walked off as Winner of the Independent Living Category in year 2 of the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards held at BAFTA in Central London. Winning this award helped elevate the profile of Walk With Path and introduced Path Finder to wider audiences. As a category winner, Path Finder had the opportunity to be showcased within the Health Tech & You area at Wired Health in Central London.

AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards 2017 is open for entries. If you are a budding health tech innovator like Lise Pape, wanting recognition for your innovation, why not enter? Entry information www.healthtechandyou.com Closing date is 16th January 2017.

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  1. Pingback: Wearable Assistive Technologies – ANTH7020 Blog

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