News Release

Smartwatch sensors enable remote monitoring & treatment guidance for Parkinson's patients

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Smartwatch Sensors Enable Remote Monitoring and Treatment Guidance for Parkinson's Patients (1 of 1)

image: The smartwatch system is based on sensors that can capture changes in movement patterns and tremors, which can help clinicians tailor treatments such as medications and lifestyle changes. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the Feb. 3, 2021, issue of <i>Science Translational Medicine</i>, published by AAAS. The paper, by R. Powers at Apple Inc. in Cupertino, CA; and colleagues was titled, "Smartwatch inertial sensors continuously monitor real-world motor fluctuations in Parkinson's disease." view more 

Credit: R. Powers <i>et al., Science Translational Medicine</i> (2021)

Scientists have developed a monitoring system based on commercial smartwatches that can detect movement issues and tremors in patients with Parkinson's disease. The system was tested in a study involving 343 patients - including 225 who the researchers followed for 6 months. The system gave evaluations that matched a clinician's estimates in 94% of the subjects. The findings suggest the platform could allow clinicians to remotely monitor the progression of a patient's condition and adjust medication plans accordingly to improve outcomes. Parkinson's disease is marked by a breakdown in voluntary movement (dyskinesia) and the appearance of tremors, which severely detract from a patient's quality of life. These symptoms can be treated with medications, but patients respond best if clinicians can precisely titrate and change drug regimens to match the severity of symptoms. However, clinicians currently base their assessments of patients on infrequent clinical visits that fail to capture subtle changes in symptoms. Rob Powers and colleagues tackled this issue with their Motor fluctuations Monitor for Parkinson's Disease (MM4PD), a collection of algorithms that uses smartwatch sensors to capture daily fluctuations in the wearer's movement patterns. The system identified patterns in the severity of tremors and dyskinesia over 6 months when worn by 225 patients and detected changes in symptoms that clinicians noted might be missed in traditional evaluations. Furthermore, MM4PD recorded signs of emerging tremors and impairments, which may require changes in medication schedules to treat properly. Powers et al. say their platform could serve a range of other applications, such as motivating patient adherence or acting as a companion diagnostic for drug development.

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