Addenbrooke's has become the first hospital in the world to trial a device designed to ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The body-worn device, developed in Cambridge, will be offered to Parkinson's inpatients and aims to significantly improve movement quickly.

Worn on the sternum, the device - called the CUE1 - delivers specialised patterns of vibrations and pulses, known as 'vibrotactile stimulation and cueing'.

These vibrations work to improve motor skills and walking parameters, as well as reducing stiffness and freeze-of-gait - an inability to step which affects Parkinson's sufferers.

Royston Crow: The CUE1 device to help patients with Parkinson'sThe CUE1 device to help patients with Parkinson's (Image: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

Patients will use the devices to aid their recovery and help them return home more quickly.

The hospital has bought 10 devices with the help of the Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT), coinciding with World Parkinson's Day on April 11.

Cambridge University Hospitals Trust's consultant geriatrician Dr Alistair Mackett met the CUE1 developers, Charco Neurotech, through the Eastern Academic Health Science Network - which connects NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, charities and industry.

Dr Mackett, who is also a training programme director for geriatric medicine in the East of England, said: "I felt that it was exciting to trial the CUE1 devices as they have been shown to be safe with almost no side effects, yet potentially helpful with mobility and a reduction in falls.

"In the UK almost 1,000 people already use the device, we are the first hospital in the world to use them with inpatients.


"The pilot will allow us to collect data and understand how best to use the CUE1 device in people with Parkinson’s who have been admitted to hospital."

He added: "We have 20-30 inpatients with Parkinson’s disease at any one time in CUH and their length of stay is significantly longer than average.

"Often the rate limiting step in discharge is mobility and this device, given the immediacy of effect, is an interesting intervention.

"My hypothesis is that we might be able to see an improvement in mobility allowing patients to better participate in therapy and hopefully go home quicker."

More than 92 per cent of participants in CUE1 trials display an improvement in their motor symptoms.