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Innovation – A Loire Valley man behind a musical and medical device to help Parkinson’s patients walk better

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For a few weeks, to walk, Patrick Burette connects. He uses a barely marketed medical device, BeatMove. The principle: use, via a telephone application, music to improve movements of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Recently in his seventies, Patrick Burette was diagnosed ten years ago. “I quit my job because I couldn’t write anymore.. Someone had to be with me in the meeting to take notes”, he says. He has since been treated with ups and downs.

When he gears up for a demonstration in his garden at La Ferté-Saint-Aubin, we see his feet, which tended to drag on the ground, rise more; and his walking, becoming more “normal”, let’s say, less marked.

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At the origin of this device, the company BeatHealth. Guillaume Tallon, one of its seven founders, is from La Ferté-Saint-Aubin. After a physical activity license adapted to the UFR Staps in Orléans, he followed a master’s degree in Montpellier, then carried out a thesis in human movement sciences at the same place, on the prevention of loss of autonomy for the elderly.Guillaume Tallon, founder of BeatHealth, originally from La Ferté Saint-Aubin.

Disease. Parkinson’s affects 200,000 people in France. It is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the destruction of dopamine neurons, involved in the control of movements. What generates tremors, difficulty in walking, slowness or blockages in the movements…

The music adapts to walking

From this world of research, he moved to the business world a year ago. from an observation: “I saw that there were things in the laboratory that did not reach the patient.”

BeatHealth has obtained the label “Young university company”awarded to organizations promoting research work, and respecting certain criteria, in particular the presence in the capital of students, teachers, researchers, etc. The company is the result of a European research project, already called BeatHealth, carried out between 2013 and 2016 and focusing on the use of music to improve mobility.

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The medical – and musical – device is called BeatMove. Two sensors are attached to the ankles of the patient, making it possible to record the frequency Steps. After one minute, music is triggered, via the telephone application, adapted to this frequency.

Then, during the walk, if the rhythm increases, the music adapts. In addition to the biological phenomenon, there is the same principle that makes many music-loving joggers: “With music, the effort seems less.” If the rhythm adapts, the patient can choose the style of music that suits him, from variety to rock…

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“Ashamed”. “People hesitate to announce it, because it is badly perceived, it is a disease a little shameful”, underlines René Hebert, of France Parkinson 45. The examples do not miss to underline the malaise which can be born. “When you go to the bank, you have to put the phrase “good for agreement”, and you explain that you can’t, it’s annoying”, says Patrick Burette, for example.

The search continues

Crowdfunding, last spring, raised 15,600 euros. 65 people subscribed to become the first users. At 30 euros per month, all the equipment is provided, including a phone with the integrated application.

The system is intended to evolve in the months and years to come., especially from the return of the first users. Whether on the application and its ergonomics, on the headphones, on the sensors…

The “research” component is also always in motion. A new study has been launched, this time on 400 people. Trials will also begin for other diseases with similar symptoms that impair motor skills, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Time should also provide answers as to the benefits of this device.

“It remains to assess the longer-term use, how long the effects last, do we manage to have benefits without having the equipment…”

Covid. The Covid has also left traces for Parkinson’s patients such as Patrick Burette. The physio sessions stopped for a while. Since 2020, “the fatigue is more intense, the walk more complicated, the tremors have increased … it reminds him more of his illness”, testifies his wife, Catherine.

Dimitri Crozet

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