Wearable Technology to Monitor Parkinson’s Disease

Introduction
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It’s more common in older people after the age of 60. It is sometimes called idiopathic because it has no external identifiable cause. The early symptoms of the disease are shaking, difficulty with walking, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movements), postural instability, freezing and loss of sense of smell.

In the later stages when disease increases, the patient may have behavior and thinking issues. According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation survey in 2010, nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease, with between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Medication costs for an individual with Parkinson’s disease averages $2,500 a year.

Problem

There are no biological markers to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are working hard to identify the cause of the disease.

The physicians are using the following techniques for diagnosis.

  1. The doctor tries to observe if the patient’s expression is animated.
  2. Patient’s arms are observed for tremor, which is present either when they are at rest or extended.
  3. Is there stiffness in the patient’s limbs or neck?
  4. Can the patient rise from a chair easily?
  5. Does patient walk normally or with short steps, and symmetrically swing their arms? The doctor will pull the patient backward.
  6. How quickly can patient regain his/her balance?

The above techniques are traditional and subjective – the result may vary as per doctor’s observation. These techniques have not changed since Dr. James Parkinson suggested before 200 years (1817). There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but the drug levodopa and other medications can control symptoms for years together. In addition to the above techniques, a physician suggests a patient undergo a PET Scan, CT Scan, and MRI to check other effects on body. Accurate and objective diagnosis is the primary challenge for a physician.

Solution

The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are Moto symptoms – Shaking or tremor and walking difficulty. Latest technical innovation in sensors and wearables has the potential to transform the current practice of observing & capturing the effect of Moto symptoms on patients. With the wearable device monitoring, symptoms can be measured objectively. For instance, a patient might inform the doctor that he felt tremor for several minutes, whereas the actual duration would have been a few seconds. With this wearable device, doctors can get precise measurements about the “frequency and severity” of symptoms.

There are multifold benefits of using wearable to monitor patients.

  1. Automatically capture data without any effort made by a patient. Real-time analysis.
  2. Data will be stored in the cloud to provide accessibility anywhere, anytime.
  3. Doctors can diagnosis multiple patients at the same time with a cloud-based system.
  4. Patient need not visit a doctor for routine observation.
  5. Data will be helpful for research.
  6. Data will be used to monitor the effect of the new drug.
  7. Data will be used for progression of disease and behavior pattern.

Conclusion

Wearable has the potential to revolutionize the diagnosis technique for Parkinson’s disease. Using wearable technology, researchers can actually monitor and measure Moto symptoms. It will help to find new drugs, can save thousands of dollars and most importantly researchers will find the cause and treatment of Parkinson’s disease to save the patient’s life.

Reference

[1]//www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/news/20101004/parkinsons-later-diagnosis-earlier-death

[2]//www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_statistics

 

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