PD Freezing Challenge

  • This Challenge is no longer open for Submission

Challenge Description


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most-common neurodegenerative disorder. Epidemiologists estimate there were more than 3 million prevalent cases of PD in the G7 in 2015. PD is a chronic neurodegenerative multi-system condition involving cognition, the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, sleep, pain, urinary and sexual dysfunction. PD is characterized by progressively worsening motor symptoms, including one or more of the following: slowness in initiating and executing movements (akinesia and bradykinesia, respectively), tremors, muscle rigidity, postural instability, gait dysfunction, and freezing.

This challenge focuses on the symptom of freezing which expresses in transient episodes, usually lasting seconds, in which the motor activity being attempted by an individual is halted. Freezing  affects around 50% of PD patients (J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2001;108(1):53-61),  is most frequently associated with the temporary, involuntary inability to move, therefore most PD patients (60%) experienced at least one fall and many (39%) experienced recurrent falls (Parkinson’s Disease, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 906274). Freezing episodes can also be associated with mouth muscles which lead to speech and swallowing difficulties. 

While for walking related freezing episodes there are several available solutions as using laser pointer or listening to music, for patients suffer from mouth muscles freezing, currently there are no solutions.

Speech and swallowing difficulties in PD patients:

Speech difficulties limit communication and social interaction and hence quality of life. Speech is one of the most complex human skills and requires the coordinated interaction of around a hundred different muscles, and is highly sensitive to developing disorders of the brain. In the case of Parkinson’s Disease, the problem of hypokinetic dysarthria arises from lesions in the basal ganglia and nigrostriatal systems.

Dysarthria is found in 90% of PD patients, though patients differ, a typical picture is of weak or breathy voice accompanied by non-melodic speech and poor articulation, and possibly also by hesitations. In advance disease, dysarthria can be accompanied by disabling problems of swallowing. This arises from reduced motility of the tongue, hesitancy and difficulty in bolus formation and delayed pharyngeal response.  Throat clearing and the cough reflex are also impaired, resulting in silent aspiration and risk of pneumonia.

The challenge

Design a tool or find a supportive method or activity that gives PD patients an immediate solution to cope with situation of mouth muscles freezing.



Describe your product/solution and enclose relevant sketches, drawings, charts, videos, graphs or any other visuals that demonstrate your solution

The description of the solution should include:

  • The technology, mode of operation, and reference to its potential effectiveness
  • The maturity level of the solution and potential time to market
  • Costs/ prices (can be an estimated range)
  • Information about the company (+ website) & team


Key emphases

Better ranking will be given to affordable solutions with increased ease of operation, small in size (can be pocketed), enabling rapid onset

Your solution can either support speech, swallowing or both. Priority to solutions that support both functions

The desired solution doesn’t have to be a physical product

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