Department: Department of Neuroscience and Histology School: College of Osteopathic Medicine Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2007
Dr. Rabin researches how tactile and proprioceptive cues are integrated with other sensory feedback in the control of posture and locomotion in individuals with Parkinson's disease and healthy populations. He will apply the results of this research to developing sensory aids for improving movement control in impaired populations. Tactile feedback is being tested in individuals with Parkinson’s disease to control posture and locomotion—particularly to maintain steady gait speed and to overcome bradykinesia (“freezing”) and improve gait initiation. Subjects walk while maintaining manual contact with a motorized handrail (actually a modified conveyor belt). Feedback from the external moving reference helps subjects overcome the tendency toward diminishing stride length. The goal of this research is to establish the usefulness of feedback of tactile cues and ultimately develop a motorized walker that can provide such cues in any setting. This area of inquiry also holds great basic science interest in better understanding the coordination of volitional motor control affected by Parkinson’s disease, and aspects of precision touch control governed by spinal reflexes not directly affected by Parkinson’s disease.
The research for Parkinson’s disease begins with a raised custom built conveyor belt. A Parkinson’s patient can place his hand on the moving belt and, in most cases, not all, will help the person walk better. The project has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2009.
The conveyor belt also tests Parkinson’s disease patient’s motor skills while we record their movements with advanced video capturing. Preliminary results have proven effective for increasing mobility. This has led us to design a custom built walker developed for aiding people with Parkinson’s disease.