Wearable technology, the hope for those living with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slow degenerative disease which kills the brain cells causing tremors and some extend of rigidity, and loss of motor functions. It eats away at the dopamine releasing neurons, resulting in a drop in dopamine within the brain, causing the locomotive difficulties in patients. The most common side effect for patients on being diagnosed with PD is depression, which can take on very ugly faces. It is not uncommon for patients to attempt suicide or hurt themselves in realms of frustration. Hence it is extremely important to monitor patients on an ongoing basis, not restricted to a doctor appointment schedule.

Intel forayed into the territory of wearable technology in 2009 with the ‘At-Home testing Device’ for various PD related motor impairment assessments. Recently, it has come out with the Basis Digital Health watch which will help to collect data from the patient and seamlessly transfer it to the medical community for research and analysis in an open system. This is a definitive step towards data collection from PD affected patients, which was seen as a huge deterrent in the past. In a study (Moore ST, et al., Long-term monitoring of gait in Parkinson’s disease, Gait Posture (2006), doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2006.09.011) conducted in 2006, regarding monitoring of gait in PD affected patients, self-reporting was stated to be unreliable, and hence a better alternative being wrist/ankle mounted accelerometers which can analyze the gait and in return offer better management of the disease through the usage of Levodopa, the metabolic precursor to dopamine.

Efficient data collection for better treatment

The data collected from devices such as the accelerometers, wrist watches and At-Home systems are synced to the cloud and later to the medical researcher’s system which will allow for accurate algorithms to be devised which will help to monitor effects of new drugs and also monitor progression of PD and their associated symptomatic manifestations. This when combined with a mobile health solution, such as a mobile app which can monitor patient medicine intake, can provide meaningful insights in a HIPAA compliant data format. Sensitive patient data is not collected for research studies, but only shared with the consulting specialists for personalized care.

Anonymous data collected from these sources can be further analyzed using the capability of the cloud for faster processing and multi- location access, which works well for many research groups which are dispersed. The results of such analysis will help researchers and doctors understand drug effectiveness and cater to the disease better.

Wearable technology with  mobile Health

mHealth technologies today help to transform our data measurement capabilities and further the possible uses of technology for healthcare. In Parkinson’s the mHealth and wearable technology when combined can deliver a means to assess progress, manage and monitor medicine dosages, and in general, keep an eye out for the patient. Wearable technology will allow for an objective approach to data collection, not subjective to patient words. There can be pre-programmed algorithms in the device which will raise an alarm or make emergency calls on behalf of the patient when it encounters any life threatening situation in its data collected.

This will certainly prove to be a compelling case for big data analytics in the healthcare sector. If there can be a means to pull data from the devices real-time, it can help to mine the data and improve treatment on the go. Going ahead, IaaS platforms will prove to be extremely important for expanding the applications of technology in healthcare and connecting the different stakeholder into the system seamlessly. And since the data which will be dealt with will be sensitive data which needs to be compliant with HIPAA regulations, it is essential to have a provider who understands the security features require, and is experienced in maintaining HIPAA compliant data centers.

How can Nalashaa be the perfect partner?

Nalashaa has experiences engineers who can set up your secure cloud infrastructure to start off the research and also set up a private cloud facility catering specifically to academia which will work for sequence analysis and gene prototyping going ahead in Parkinson research.

Mobile apps are made very different desktop applications, understanding the user requirements and providing a great user experience will ensure acceptance and drive users to draw maximum from the app. Mobility services from Nalashaa work towards building a synergy between building a solution and delivering it with the greatest care to user experience.

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Aathira Nair

An engineer by education, foraying into a medley of activities - content, social media and marketing.
Aathira Nair

An engineer by education, foraying into a medley of activities - content, social media and marketing.

All stories by: Aathira Nair