Ankle, wrist sensors help continuously monitor Parkinson's symptoms

By Jonah Comstock
09:48 am
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Kinesia 360Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies, which makes mobile software and wearable devices for monitoring symptoms of Parkinson's disease, has released a new clinical version of its technology that supports continuous monitoring. Kinesia 360 is still a clinician-facing tool; it doesn't appear to be the direct-to-consumer offering the company promised last April when it received a $1.5 million NIH grant.

"Kinesia 360 represents a new product offering for Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies that targets continuous monitoring of Parkinson’s disease during activities of daily living, compared to our existing Kinesia HomeView platform which measures Parkinson’s disease symptoms at specific time points during the day and during specific tasks," Dr. Joe Giuffrida, president and principal investigator at Great Lakes, told MobiHealthNews in an email. "Kinesia 360 uses two small sensors worn by the user on the wrist and ankle continuously during the day, while the user interacts with an app to enter diary information. All sensor data is collected by the app and pushed to a web application."

The company has always prided itself on Parkinson's-specific monitoring technology that yields more accurate and relevant data than data from a smartphone or consumer-grade activity tracker device. But up until now, the wearable system has still been mostly used in controlled, observational settings. The new product will be able to continuously monitor Parkinson's symptoms, which is hard because those symptoms are subtle and can resemble day-to-day activities, the company said.

“Measuring these symptoms and side effects, which often fluctuate during the day, is critical both for optimizing patient care protocols and for clinical trials determining the efficacy of new therapies," product manager Dr. Christopher Pulliam said in a statement. “Developing technology, such as Kinesia 360, to accurately and remotely measure Parkinson’s symptoms is extremely challenging. Was an individual typing on a keyboard or did he have tremor? Was she folding the laundry or was it the side effect of dyskinesia?”

The timing of the Great Lakes launch invites comparison to Apple ResearchKit, which also targets Parkinson's research via a high-profile team-up with the Michael J. Fox foundation, Sage Bionetworks, and the University of Rochester. While ResearchKit can help researchers reach a huge number of patients, Giuffrida warns that the iPhone alone won't be able to match the fidelity of his company's multisensor approach.

“As the wearables market has recently exploded with consumer actigraphy devices and motion sensors in smart phones, the ability to quickly collect and aggregate big data has emerged," he said in a statement. “However, our decade of experience on sensor-based, quantitative assessment of Parkinson’s shows it’s often the small things that matter. Where was the sensor positioned? Was it repeatable? Having a sensor in the pocket is great if you simply want to measure movement. But if the target is to specifically measure Parkinson’s symptoms and side effects, then more accurate and intelligent technology is required.”

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