Search SciPol

Brought to you by
October 3, 2016

Smartphones and other wearable technology can track neurodegenerative disease

  • Agency
  • Neuroscience

Nurse.com – Patients with the neurodegenerative disease known as Huntington’s disease will soon be able to track their daily function and movement using wearable technology, according to a Sept. 15 news release from the Business Wire website.

“The aim of this important project is to provide continuous objective data on the impact of Huntington’s disease on the patient, and, by extension, a clear understanding of the impact of treatment on patients’ quality of life,” Michael Hayden, president of Teva Global R&D and chief scientific officer, said in the news release.

There are 30,000 people in the U.S. who are symptomatic for Huntington’s disease and more than 200,000 at risk for developing the disease, according to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America website. “Symptoms include personality changes, mood swings and depression; forgetfulness and impaired judgment; unsteady gait & involuntary movements (chorea); slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing and significant weight loss,” the website states.

Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands are getting a better picture of disease progression and what’s happening with patients who have Parkinson’s disease as part of the ongoing study. The study uses a machine learning component and smartphone technology, according to a Medcitynews.com article.

In a description of a trial, researchers said management of Parkinson’s patients is complex and appears to be a challenging task for healthcare professionals. “The main reason is the lack of knowledge in the disease pattern,” the researchers stated. “This issue could be solved by a long term follow-up of patients during their everyday life, and wearable medical devices can act as a way to collect data about everyday life activities.”

The Business Wire website news release stated how the technology works. “As part of this, patients will be asked to use a smartphone and wear a smartwatch equipped with sensing technology that will continuously measure their general functioning and movement,” they wrote. “These data will be wirelessly streamed to a cloud-based platform specifically developed by Intel to analyze data from wearable devices.”

The technology used to help Parkinson’s patients, backed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation “involves deploying a Pebble smartwatch and fall detector to participants,” Baum wrote in her article. “The study will also assess activity level, medication intake and mood.”

Wearable technology has been expanding at a rapid rate, according to a January 2016 article on the InformationWeek Healthcare website. “Wearable medical devices have expanded from hearing aids to everything from heartbeat monitors to pain management,” the article stated.

In related news published on the Global Kinetics website, the FDA gave marketing clearance for its second generation technology — the PKG Watch, new technology that meets the needs of Parkinson’s patients. The Australian company has held partnerships with many U.S. pharmaceutical companies to develop devices that monitor patients’ symptoms.

“The new technology is a core platform for the company to reach scale in the US, European and Asia Pacific clinical care markets by overcoming previous distribution and data handling constraints,” the website stated. “It enables GKC to capitalize on our growing telehealth and clinical trial services businesses, and to build on our already substantial partnerships with global pharmaceutical and device leaders in Parkinson’s.”