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

February 03, 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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American Association for the Advancement of Science

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