A “zapper” machine could help people with Parkinson’s avoid falls and stumbles.
The small device delivers an impulse to a nerve in the neck that may stimulate a chemical needed for balance and mobility.
Called gammaCore, it could revolutionise Parkinson’s care as people with the condition suffer difficulties with walking, broken bones from falls or are forced into an isolated lifestyle.
The non-invasive hand-held device could boost the production of acetylcholine, which is reduced in sufferers.
The chemical is said to stimulate the vagus nerve, which, among others things, helps with balance.
Geriatrician Dr Alison Yarnall, of Newcastle University, is leading a 12-week trial of the device.
She said: “We hope it will help improve walking.
“People with Parkinson’s fear falling and reduce activity, which causes muscles to weaken and makes them more vulnerable.
“This could give some their life back.”
GammaCore has a proven record in treating headaches, migraines and epilepsy.
Parkinson’s UK has launched a £1million Time for Can appeal to fund research. parkinsons.org.uk.