Reliable monitoring of Parkinson’s disease at home using a smartwatch

What is striking about the research, which is published in NPJ Digital Medicine, is that measurements taken with a smartwatch at home often show a different picture than measurements in the hospital. This is partly because people with Parkinson’s disease experience stress in the hospital, which often exacerbates a number of symptoms, such as trembling. Objectively at home So measuring with a smartwatch is an important development to get a better view of Parkinson’s disease. Radboudumc has been striving to provide personalized care to Parkinson’s patients for many years and this smartwatch can help with that.

Objective measurement at home

“We have known for more than 200 years that it is not possible to reliably map the severity of Parkinson’s disease during a hospital assessment,” says Bas Blume, MD, professor of neurology at Radbodomic. A visit to the hospital is often a stressful event. This worsens some symptoms, such as trembling, but walking often improves. This is not a good reflection of how things are going at home. In addition, it is labor intensive: patients have to travel to the hospital and it takes a lot of manpower from doctors and scientists. You prefer to measure objectively in your living environment more often.

Smart watch with motion sensors

Study participants wore the Verily Study Watch, a multi-sensor research watch, for two to three years. Their motivation has been great, says researcher Luke Evers of Radbodomic. Even after years of use, people wear the smartwatch on average for 21 hours a day, which gives us a very complete picture of how the disease is progressing at home. Using motion sensors, we can identify important Parkinson’s complaints such as changes in gait pattern and tremors. But thanks to the other sensors, we can also look at the lesser known – but certainly no less important – complaints other than the motor. Think, for example, of sleep problems, changes in heart rate regulation, and the effects of stress.

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World’s largest study of Parkinson’s disease using a wearable sensor

Previous studies have also looked at the added value of a smartwatch, but the new specially designed Parkinson’s study contains several new elements. It is the largest study of Parkinson’s disease on a wearable sensor worldwide and people are followed for much longer than in previous studies. Data is continuously collected in the background. In addition, participants take various tests at specific times. Using the smartwatch, basic symptoms and the effects of medications on disease can be accurately measured in a home situation. Evers: All participants also had the same tests once in the hospital. The results of this one measurement often deviated from the weekly measurements in their home setting. We are convinced that results in the home setting provide a more complete and accurate picture of the severity of Parkinson’s disease. The next step is to see if the smartwatch can be used to measure disease progression over a longer period of time.

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