Brain Health Spotlight - Smart Bike Reduces Symptoms of Parkinson's

Kent State researchers develop therapeutic cycle to reduce symptoms of Parkinson's. 


Smart Bike

Angela Ridgel, Ph.D., associate professor of exercise science in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, received a grant from the TeCK Fund to help pay for the design and manufacture of a SMART (Speed Manipulated Adaptive Rehabilitation Therapy) Cycle prototype, a motorized therapy bike specially tailored to help ease the symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease.

She worked with engineers at Case Western Reserve University and Rockwell Automation in Cleveland to develop advanced programming features so the cycle’s controls will adapt to different patients’ abilities and needs. Ridgel hopes that within several years of research and funding, Parkinson’s patients could have the bike in their homes for daily therapy.

While the therapeutic cycle may never cure Parkinson’s, researchers believe that it can dramatically improve the disease’s symptoms, including neurological weakness, tremors, and rigidity.

Dr. Ridgel has dedicated her research since 2006 to the impact of cycling therapy on Parkinson’s sufferers. 

“I’ve always been fascinated by the complexities of the brain and how the brain does all the things that it does,” she said. “My background is in neurobiology, studying how the nervous system produces movement. If you think about how the nervous system produces movement it’s most interesting to look at instances where the nervous system is not producing movements correctly,” Dr. Ridgel said, explaining her research focus.

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