Cotswold Health Technology (CHT) is a proposed spinout from the University of Oxford that has its roots in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME). The focus of CHT’s first product, GaitThaw, is on helping people living with Parkinson’s walk.
The CHT founding team – Dr James Cantley, Dr Dongli Li and Dr André Hallack – has conducted extensive market validation work in Parkinson’s, initially through the University of Oxford’s BioDesign programme and subsequently through the ICURe business accelerator programme, which provided funding for wide-ranging, field-based research, in particular with people living with Parkinson’s and those charitable organisations that provide essential support to them and their families.
The team has been further strengthened by the addition of Andy Hill, a senior executive from the
medical technology industry with extensive experience in bringing new and disruptive technologies to market in Europe and the USA.
What is your innovation?
Almost half of the ten million patients living with Parkinson’s globally develop freezing of gait (FoG), a condition that renders spontaneous walking all but impossible. FoG is embarrassing, frustrating and debilitating. It also doubles the sufferer’s likelihood of having falls compared to their non-Parkinson’s peers. These falls may frequently be associated with serious injury.
GaitThaw is a simple, elegant and practical solution to the problem of gait freezing that underpins the spinning-out of CHT. GaitThaw’s wearable technology uses artificial intelligence to continuously monitor and assess users’ walking quality and provide personalised and adaptive vibrational cues to the user to reduce the risk of freezing and help overcome gait freezing while maintaining a more natural pattern of walking.
The physical benefits to the user of GaitThaw are a reduction in the likelihood and duration of freeze events and a reduction in falls.
The impact of GaitThaw on FoG means that patients will have greater mobility, be more likely to feel confident to go out and re-engage in normal social and work activities. It is expected that the restoration of a degree of control over everyday activities that non-Parkinson’s sufferers take for granted will lead to an improvement in users’ quality of life and psychological well-being.
Continuous tracking of gait quality will make users more aware of changes in their condition and potentially improve motivation to engage in physiotherapy to slow down disease progression. The longitudinal movement data of the user enables them to better present their conditions to clinicians.