New wireless device can monitor Parkinson's progression remotely

The technology can make treating the disease much simpler.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A wireless device can help monitor Parkinson's.jpg
A wireless device can help monitor Parkinson's.

N.Fuller, SayoStudio 

Tracking the severity and progression of Parkinson’s disease is a complicated but absolutely necessary task that leaves clinicians baffled. Now, according to an MIT report published on Wednesday, there may be a new device that can help physicians do just that.

Monitoring movement and gait speed

The invention is an in-home device that can monitor a patient’s movement and gait speed, “which can be used to evaluate Parkinson’s severity, the progression of the disease, and the patient’s response to medication.”

The device is about the size of a Wi-Fi router, which can be found in every home, and collects data passively using radio signals that reflect off the patient’s body without the need for him or her to wear a gadget.

One example showed that this type of device could be used to detect Parkinson’s from a person’s breathing patterns while sleeping.

The researchers undertook a one-year long at-home study with 50 participants using these devices. They found that, by incorporating machine-learning algorithms to analyze the data they passively collected, a clinician could track Parkinson’s progression and medication response more effectively than they would with periodic, in-clinic evaluations.

The scientists did this by gathering more than 200,000 individual measurements that they averaged to smooth out variability due to the conditions irrelevant to the disease.

“By being able to have a device in the home that can monitor a patient and tell the doctor remotely about the progression of the disease, and the patient’s medication response so they can attend to the patient even if the patient can’t come to the clinic — now they have real, reliable information — that actually goes a long way toward improving equity and access,” said in the statement senior author Dina Katabi, the Thuan and Nicole Pham Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

Conducive to key insights about a patient's condition

From this data they were able to extrapolate key insights. For instance, the researchers showed that daily fluctuations in a patient’s walking speed correspond with how they are responding to their medication.

Most Popular

“This enables us to objectively measure how your mobility responds to your medication. Previously, this was very cumbersome to do because this medication effect could only be measured by having the patient keep a journal,” said co-lead author and EECS graduate student Yingcheng Liu.

Now, the researchers hope to collect a holistic set of markers that could diagnose the disease early and then be used to track and treat it as well as tackle other conditions and diseases.

“This radio-wave sensor can enable more care (and research) to migrate from hospitals to the home where it is most desired and needed,” said Ray Dorsey, a professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, co-author of Ending Parkinson’s, and a co-author of this research paper.

“Its potential is just beginning to be seen. We are moving toward a day where we can diagnose and predict disease at home. In the future, we may even be able to predict and ideally prevent events like falls and heart attacks.”

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron