The wearable devices supporting Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s can be a debilitating condition, but there are a number of fascinating mobile and wearable devices aiming to improve matters for patients.

For instance, a mobile app called CloudUPDRS has been developed to allow mobile phone users to use the sensors in their phone to test for Parkinson’s.

The app hopes to mimic the tasks undertaken by the clinician.  The first version therefore took roughly the same length of time as a normal consultation.

“The reason it takes so long is because it’s hard to make sure that you get enough good data to make the tests reliable. So you have to overcompensate by performing each test for longer than necessary,” the team say.

A project from Imperial College London is attempting to help those already diagnosed with the condition via a glove that takes lessons from gyroscopes.  The device, which the team have called GyroGlove, attempts to reduce the hand tremors that make life so challenging for those with the disease.

The glove is a bit like placing your hand inside a thick syrup that makes movement free but considerably slower than would normally be the case.  When the device was tested it resulted in 90% fewer tremors than would ordinarily be experienced by the user.

Personalized treatment

Great Lakes Neurotechnologies are a company with a long track record in Parkinson’s care, and they’ve developed clinically validated sensors to help provide daily monitoring of patients.  The system, which consists of bands worn around the wrist and ankles, was primarily developed for use by medical researchers testing various treatments for Parkinson’s.  The sensors track things such as tremor, bradykinesia, and dyskinesia.

Last year the company published a paper showing that the sensors can improve referral rates for more effective therapies.  For instance, it emerged that clinicians tracking patients wearing the Kinesia bands were give times as likely to recommend that patient for advanced therapies because they had access to not only more frequent information from the patient, but also better quality data with which to work.

The company are working with pharma giant UCB to tap into their global reach in terms of both patients and clinicians.  It’s part of UCB’s expressed desire to adopt an open approach to partnership building to ensure they have access to the best innovation.

“UCB focuses on developing treatments for diseases like Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease which have a significant impact on millions of patients. We put significant effort and investment on better understanding patients’ reality, which helps us pinpoint the areas where we can make the biggest difference. By blending new technologies with more traditional molecular entities, we believe we can dramatically improve outcomes and experience for patients – and we’re committed to being at the forefront of exploring these next generation solutions. Our innovation mission is a crucial element of our strategy to provide maximum value to those patients who need it the most.” Jeff Wren, Executive Vice President, Neurology Patient Value Head, UCB, told me on a recent visit.

There are some fascinating new technologies emerging to help support people with Parkinson’s, and hopefully by partnerships such as this, those technologies will find themselves in the hands of sufferers as soon as possible.