NehaShahidChaudhry has developed a walking stick with her firm in Bristol that promises to transform the lives of thousands of people with Parkinson’s Disease.
The Pakistani student entrepreneur whose maternal grandfather was debilitated by Parkinson’s disease has developed an innovative walking stick to improve the lives of other patients with the condition. Miss NehaShahidChaudhry, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of the West of England originally told Geo News in an exclusive interview that she was inspired to invent the mobility aid – a smart walking stick – after observing with helplessness her late grandfather in Pakistan struggling with Parkinson’s disease.
Neha a B.Sc Product Design Engineer with M.Sc in marketing from University of the West of England and the founder of Walk to Beat, was born in Lahore and gained initial education from the Beacon’s House. She moved to S. Arabia with her engineer father at the age of 14 and studied there till 2009, moving to the UK in 2010 to study Kingston University London.
She set up a company named Walk to Beat and started working on the stick which uses “haptic feedback” to send electric signals through the handle to the patient’s limbs when they are temporarily unable to move due to the degenerative brain disease.The product has been designed to look like a regular walking stick. This was a good way to combat the stigma associated with the regular medical devices which perform similarly.
Her device was praised and reported in national and international media. After her visa was rejected, the UK government had to face public humiliation since its PM had claimed that the country would become a “magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead”.
The smart walking stick invented by Neha detects when a user’s limb have frozen and they cannot continue walking. As soon as the stick recognizes a pause in motion, it starts vibrating to help the patient regain their rhythm and get moving again. The stick has a sensor which can detect when the user has stopped taking steps or ‘shuffling’ steps and it immediately sends signals to the vibrator in the handle which starts vibrating and releases a vibration and rhythm which helps patients to resume walking.
Neha had been in the UK since 2010 and came up with the idea to develop a walking stick. This stick helps resolve the issue of freezing limbs in people with Parkinson’s disease. Neha was committed to find a way around this after she witnessed how her own grandfather suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
Neha has been shortlisted for the prestigious ‘FutureSPARK’ award while her company, Walk to Beat, in under consideration for the ‘Good’ award.She received funding from different charities and an overall investment of around £100,000. Even UK’s National Health Services (NHS) has shown interest in her smart walking