Digital Health Assessments May Improve Parkinson Disease Diagnosis

Results from the 12-month, multicenter, observational study, WATCH-PD, were recently published in the journal Nature. The researchers found significant associations between digital biomarkers with a wearable device and conventional clinical scoring methods used in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Working with Clinical Ink to gather the real-world data for their research, the scientists provided evidence on different digital measures gathered from smart devices for the detection of motor and non-motor features in patients with early-stage PD.

In the gait analysis, smart device data from participants with PD revealed that these patients had smaller arm swing magnitude, and gait abnormalities were also detected by the smartphone. The research team also discovered that gait parameters measured by patients’ smartwatches and smartphones showed a strong correlation with those measured by research-grade wearable sensors.

The investigators set out to determine whether a smartwatch and smartphone application could measure features in patients with early untreated PD and a group of age-matched controls. Participants wore research-grade sensors, a smartwatch, and a smartphone while they did standardized assessments in a clinic setting. Researchers installed a movement disorders application on the wearable and sensory devices. The application provided digital assessments of cognition, speech, and motor performance including proportion of time with tremor, finger tapping, and arm swing.

The participants then wore the smartwatch for seven days after each clinic visit at home. They also performed speech, cognitive, and motor tasks on the smartphone every other week.

“Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease with increasing prevalence. However, diagnosis of early Parkinson’s disease remains difficult due to the complexity of symptoms,” said Clinical Ink Principal Scientist David Anderson, PhD. “This publication demonstrates the potential use for consumer wearables in the detection and staging of early-stage Parkinson’s disease.”

The smartwatch and smartphone data also showed that the PD patients had deficits in psychomotor function, a higher frequency of tremors, and poorer performance in cognitive tests.

“We are thrilled to co-author this study in npj Parkinson’s Disease,” said Jonathan Goldman, MD, Clinical Ink CEO. “I am delighted that Clinical Ink is taking a leadership role in clinical research applications of these novel technologies. I hope that wearables and associated analytic tools can improve the lives of patients living with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.”

Read the full article, which includes data from the study, here.