Modern Smart Watches Can Support in Tracking Parkinson’s Disease Advancement: Study

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A recent study found that an Apple Watch linked with an iPhone can detect changes in Parkinson’s symptoms over time in people in the early stages of the disease. This research indicates that wearable devices like smartwatches could enhance scientists’ understanding of Parkinson’s disease and expedite the approval of new treatments.

In the study, the Apple Watch and iPhone were used to monitor changes in Parkinson’s symptoms. These devices can passively track symptoms such as gait and tremor, and can collect additional data through tasks like finger tapping and voice recording to measure speech-related symptoms.

Jamie Adams, the lead author and an associate professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, USA, commented: “Digital measures hold the promise to provide objective, sensitive, real-world measures of disease progression in Parkinson’s disease. This study demonstrates that wristwatch and smartphone data can be used to remotely monitor and detect changes in a variety of disease domains. These digital assessments could aid in determining the efficacy of future treatments.”

Adams added: “This study brings us closer to having meaningful digital measures for future use in Parkinson’s clinical trials, which may speed up therapeutic development and get treatments to our patients faster.”

The study, named WATCH-PD, monitored individuals with early-stage Parkinson’s for 12 months. The data collected by the devices showed significant declines in measures of gait, an increase in tremor, and modest changes in speech. The smartwatch was particularly effective in detecting decreases in arm swing and daily activity levels, measured by the number of steps taken each day.

The findings are published in the npj Parkinson’s Disease journal.

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