A new smartphone app could help improve treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease because it enables individuals and their physicians to track the development of systems between medical appointments, according to its inventors.
The Android app, called cloudUPDRS, records the details of movements while a person performs a series of actions with each limb, such as tapping the screen to assess slowness of movement and holding the phone on a knee to assess tremor. The measurements are uploaded to an online Big Data analytics server to calculate a score in the format of the clinical Universal Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, or UPDRS.
Additional analytics performed over time enable healthcare professionals to determine how the disease is progressing and can help them make treatment decisions.
“More regular assessments of disease progression mean that patients receive more consistent and reliable care, and detailed and automated patient analytics permit the early identification of problems such as medication side effects,” George Roussos, Ph.D., who is the research lead in computing technology for the app development, said in a statement. “By collecting and analyzing data ahead of appointments, clinicians and patients can focus clinic time on treatment strategies rather than clinical assessment. Finally, by monitoring symptoms in real time, patients can be directly involved in efforts to improve the management of their own care and can receive tailored advice on managing their symptoms through measures such as improved nutrition and physical therapy.”
The app has been certified as a medical device, which the inventors said is rare; most apps are considered lifestyle applications, they said.
cloudUPDRS has been in development since 2012 by researchers at the Birkbeck University of London’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, University College London, Benchmark Performance Ltd and Retechnica Ltd. A clinical trial to measure how it compares with traditional methods of Parkinson’s disease symptom tracking is underway.