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Michael J. Fox Foundation Study Demonstrates Feasibility of Wearable Devices in Parkinson's Research and Care

NEW YORK (December 20, 2017) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) today released data from the Parkinson@Home Study. Researchers demonstrated the feasibility of collecting objective data using mobile and wearable devices across a large group of people with Parkinson's disease (PD). Results were published in PLOS ONE.

Parkinson's is a unique disease. Symptoms can vary day to day and even throughout the same day. A patient sees his or her physician once every three to six months, providing the clinician a snapshot of how PD affects that person. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches, could monitor symptoms on a continuous basis, and in the patient's own home environment, to provide insight into an individual's daily experience with PD, which may amplify clinical care and research.

"No two people with Parkinson's have the same disease," says Sohini Chowdhury, MJFF deputy CEO. "Capturing information from mobile devices can fill time gaps for investigators, provide insights into patients' PD symptom changes throughout the days and weeks, and reveal more about the variability of these experiences from person to person."

Bringing Parkinson's Research Home
The Parkinson@Home Study assessed the feasibility of wearables through a large-scale, observational, international study. Researchers enrolled 953 people with Parkinson's in two cohorts, one in North America and one in The Netherlands, using different recruitment and retention strategies. Investigators invited North American participants virtually through methods including Fox Insight, MJFF's online observational online clinical study, and advertisements on Fox Trial Finder, the Foundation's clinical trial matching tool.

All Parkinson@Home study volunteers used the Fox Wearable Companion application, which was developed by Intel. The interactive app enabled users to stream data from a smartwatch to smartphone, including details on activity levels, tremor and movement during sleep, and the Intel Pharma Analytics platform collected the information. Participants also were able to set medication reminders, log medication intake and rate symptoms (e.g., tremor, dyskinesia, rigidity) within the app.

The North American group was asked to keep the devices with them for a minimum of five hours each day for a total of six weeks; those in The Netherlands were asked for 24 hours a day for 13 weeks. The two different study protocols allowed researchers to assess whether varying instructions affected participant compliance rates.

Across both groups, 84 percent contributed data. Compliance for North American volunteers was 62 percent with a median of 14.8 hours of data contributed per person per day; compliance in the Netherlands cohort was 68 percent with a median of 16.3 hours of data per participant per day.

Technology Powering Research
Advancements in technology are making Parkinson's research more accessible and enabling broader populations to participate in clinical studies.

"As mobile devices, wearables and data processing have matured, monitoring patients at home has become feasible," says Chen Admati, head of Intel Pharma Analytics platform. "Enhancing that with cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies can yield meaningful research results."

"Mobile and wearable devices allow people to incorporate research participation into their daily routines," says Bastiaan Bloem, medical director at Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands and Parkinson@Home principal investigator. "The Parkinson@Home Study demonstrated that large groups of people with PD can use these tools to provide longer-term data on how Parkinson's truly affects them, which can give both scientists and clinicians unprecedented disease insights."

The Parkinson@Home Study lays the foundation for other studies to incorporate digital technology. Researchers already are testing mobile and wearable devices in the Clinician Input Study in Parkinson's Disease (CIS-PD), an initiative aimed at substantiating their use in clinical care. Learn more about CIS-PD.

Data collected in studies such as CIS-PD also hold the power to help scientists refine analytical tools and speed scientific discovery.

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