Rhode Island Professor Receives More Funding for ‘Smart Glove’ for Parkinson’s Patients

Rhode Island Professor Receives More Funding for ‘Smart Glove’ for Parkinson’s Patients

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a University of Rhode Island (URI) professor nearly $250,000 to help commercialize a “smart glove” for Parkinson’s disease patients.

Kunal Mankodiya, PhD, an associate professor of engineering, is developing the glove that can capture wearers’ movement data. Designed for those with PD or other movement disorders, the technology can help physicians customize patients’ exercise and treatment regimens.

The two-year project grant is through the NSF’s Partnerships for Innovation program, which helps researchers accelerate innovations that address significant societal needs. The project received NSF funding earlier.

“This funding will enable us to take a deep dive into the world of fusing different domains, including conductive fabrics, wearable electronics, human-factors design and smart textile manufacturing,” Mankodiya said in a press release. “I’m glad that the NSF created such grant programs where innovative technologies could find their way to the marketplace over the years.”

It’s been three years since Mankodiya, with the help of students in his Wearable Biosensing Lab, designed the first prototype of the glove. “We’ve performed significant research on the smart gloves over the years. We decided that it’s time to transition this technology from research to market. However, the transition is not straightforward. It will require very focused, narrow research to finalize the physical, digital and analytical components of the smart gloves,” he said.

Nick Constant has been there since the start. The URI electrical engineering doctoral student designed the proof-of-concept glove that earned the original NSF grant. Along with Mankodiya, he also wrote the new grant proposal. “Its ultimate outcome seemed clear from the beginning, but building a new technology takes time and testing,” he said. “We have seen this glove go from a hopeful idea to gaining traction in reality through different design iterations and consultations with stakeholders.”

Constant’s charge these days is to find project collaborators knowledgeable about areas such as manufacturing, supply chains and medical device regulations. Ultimately, the team wants an affordable glove that’s relatively easy to manufacture.

Neurologist Umer Akbar, MD, project collaborator and co-director of Rhode Island Hospital’s Movement Disorders Program, specializes in those living with Parkinson’s, and sees a definite need for the wearable device. “The challenge with studying the many symptoms of the disease is that they fluctuate throughout the day,” he said. “The short window physicians have into their patients’ lives is often inadequate to verify the symptoms, so we sought to develop wearable technology that can remotely and objectively provide clinical data which can help us better treat our patients.”

In a pilot study to take place in Mankodiya’s lab, at Rhode Island Hospital, and in patients’ homes, up to 30 Parkinson’s patients will try the glove.

Andrea Hopkins has worn the glove a few times since its development. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002, the former URI assistant vice president of public affairs eagerly awaits the finished version.

“There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but if doctors can monitor their patients remotely using the smart glove, it would enable them to assess how the medications are working,” she said.

Many stand to benefit from the glove’s successful development. The neurodegenerative disorder affects roughly 1 million U.S. residents, and more than 10 million individuals globally.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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2 comments

  1. Nandini Patel, MD says:

    Are you still adding patient’s to trial the glove? My 62 year old mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 55. She has had progressive symptoms since October and her neurologists are having a hard time titrating her meds to account for her progressive symptoms. Aside from her reporting her symptoms, there really is no way to quantify her symptoms and she is really suffering. We would be grateful to be included in your study.

  2. Krishna Sitaram says:

    My 86-year old father (currently living in New Delhi, India) has trembling in his hands since about 4 years. We’ve seen the amazing video on WhatsApp couple days ago and are looking forward to trying out the Smart Glove. For now, we appreciate if you could please consider including him in future trials.

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