We lack biomarkers — objective biological metrics including imaging, biologic sampling, behavioural assessments — to measure the progression of Parkinson’s disease. But our smart phones may just be the answer to that! Organizations are focused on developing biomarkers for Parkinson’s, programs like the The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).
Max Little has drawn everyone attention to Parkinson’s biomarkers, specifically a voice biomarker (see link here). Even better, he has drawn attention to how a smartphone (something almost all of us carry!) may be the answer! Here is some new research that is happening using smart phones to ID Parkinson’s biomarkers
#1. Using iPhone’s accelerometer to detect tremors
#2. Using a smartphone camera to detect hypokinesia— the frozen or stony face that many people with Parkinson’s display.
#3. Using a phone’s GPS to identify environmental markers for Parkinson’s, or the phone’s mobile payment features (i.e. mobile wallets) to detect things like diet or lifestyle markers.
The Michael J Fox Foundation has gotten on board and are offering a research challenge to spur ideas for using patient data, collected using smartphones, in Parkinson’s disease (PD) monitoring and treatment. It is aimed at “developing opportunities for patients to contribute data about the real experience of Parkinson’s disease”. “Many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be simply and objectively measured with smartphones. We have such a data set and we’re challenging the research community to help us put it to use.”
What do YOU think is the best Parkinson’s biomarker to measure using your smartphone? What are some of your favourite apps that you can’t live without (or so it may seem sometimes?)? Please share in the comments below!