Enabling breakthroughs in Parkinson’s disease with wearable technologies and big data analytics
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that is diagnosed and measured clinically by the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Tools for continuous and objective monitoring of PD motor symptoms are needed to complement clinical assessments of symptom severity to further inform PD therapeutic development across several arenas, from developing more robust clinical trial outcome measures to establishing biomarkers of disease progression. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research and Intel Corporation have joined forces to develop a mobile application and an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to support large-scale studies of objective, continuously sampled sensory data from people with PD. This platform provides both population and per-patient analyses, measuring gait, activity level, nighttime activity, tremor, as well as other structured assessments and tasks. All data collected will be available to researchers on an open-source platform. Development of the IoT platform raised a number of engineering considerations, including wearable sensor choice, data management and curation, and algorithm validation. This project has successfully demonstrated proof of concept that IoT platforms, wearable technologies and the data they generate offer exciting possibilities for more robust, reliable, and low-cost research methodologies and patient care strategies.