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Funded Studies

Tracking Mobility and Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease with New Wireless Technology

Study Rationale:
As wearable technology -- smartphones and wearable devices with built-in sensors -- became increasingly more common, affordable and effective, its use in the evaluation and treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD) has advanced rapidly. Such technology can collect data on mobility, symptom intensity and medication effects. While useful, these devices have limitations: They must be worn at all times and recharged as needed. Our recent invention, the Emerald device lacks these limitations and has unique features that give it an advantage. The device uses radio signals to measure the position of a person with PD. It can be installed anywhere -- in the home of a person with PD, for example -- for as long as needed. Not only does this device monitor mobility and gait speed in people with Parkinson's but it also can monitor their heart rate and respiration, making it useful in alerting health care professionals if the person has fallen and needs assistance.

This study aims to compare the effectiveness of Emerald in monitoring daily fluctuations in gait speed and mobility with that of the Hauser diary, an at-home diary for recording dyskinesia (an abnormal, uncontrolled, involuntary movement that typically occurs as a complication of long-term levodopa use). Data collected by Emerald will be confirmed by several clinical assessments. Another aim of this study is to find a link between daily fluctuations of gait and mobility and the use of medications for Parkinson's symptoms.

Study Design:
The study will enroll up to 25 participants with Parkinson's disease and include two in-clinic or remote visits -- at the beginning and at the end of the study -- during which a clinical assessment will be performed. Between these two visits, participants will be observed at home for eight weeks. During this eight-week period, the Emerald device will record gait speed and mobility, their changes throughout the day and other relevant data. The participants will also be asked to complete the diary and undergo a basic assessment once a week.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's disease:
This project could aid in the development and testing of medications that shorten or eliminate "off" periods, when medication is not working optimally to control symptoms. By collecting more data in less time, this technology could speed research and therapeutic development. It could also be used to assess PD in clinical trials. Furthermore, the device makes participation in clinical trials much more comfortable by collecting data in the participant's home without having to be worn at all times. The greater convenience will speed recruitment and reduce the overall cost of research.

Next Steps for Development:
If successful, the study will provide new insights into the lives of people with Parkinson's outside of the clinic. It will also develop new ways to collect clinically relevant data on behavior and mobility of people with PD.


  • Dina Katabi, PhD, MS, BS

    Cambridge, MA United States

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