The movement disorders associated with Parkinson’s can vary with the time of day, stress, and what you eat. Frequency and severity also differ from person to person, making successful management a moving target. What if there was a way to track symptoms and severity levels automatically through a wearable device? Sound too good to be true? Well, hold on to your hats, because this is a reality that we will soon be seeing. Apple just filed a patent for its Apple watch titled “Passive Tracking of Dyskinesia/Tremor Symptoms.” For those with Parkinson’s, this is a game-changer.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that mainly affects the dopamine producing neurons in the brain. Dopamine contributes to many physical and behavioral functions such as movement, motivation, heart rate, sleep, and mood. Symptoms can take years to develop and can include tremor at rest, Bradykinesia (slowed movement), limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems.
Symptoms at first may not be noticeable, eventually progressing to complete loss of independence. Parkinson’s is typically treated with medications that provide a substitute for dopamine, which helps manage the movement problems.
Apple and Parkinson’s
The Apple Watch is the most popular timepiece on the market. It’s no wonder with the customizable options and sleek style. It also has features that help keep you moving, track abnormal heart rhythms, sleep patterns, and even save lives. With the new patent filed, Apple is hoping to add the tracking of involuntary muscle movements to the list.
In doing so, the 24-hour daily data collected will be used to identify what kind of movements they are experiencing along with the times. The information can be easily given to your doctor to see how well you are responding to current treatment. From there, they can make any needed regimen adjustments, and the patient can plan better knowing their symptom patterns.
The Work That Still Needs to be Done
As Parkinson’s progresses, available treatments often lose effectiveness, or become less reliable. Although the Apple device will give a better line of sight in the management of the disease, more work is still needed to find more effective options. Clinical research makes these advances possible. To learn more about getting involved in upcoming studies, click here.