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Tuesday, 05 June 2018 08:00

Measuring Parkinson’s with a simple mobile phone app

With an estimated 127 000 people affected by Parkinson’s disease in the United Kingdom alone, measuring the progression of this complicated disease has long been tedious, time-consuming and challenging. But in today’s day and age, this could be greatly simplified with the development of the cloudUPDRS app.

The Michael J Fox Foundation has donated £100 000 towards the development of this mobile phone app which records vital information on the motor symptoms, tremors, rigidity and posture of a Parkinson’s sufferer.

Development of cloudUPDRS began in 2013, with Professor George Roussos of Birkbeck, University of London’s School of Business, at the helm of computing technology for the app.

The main aim of this technology

To provide objective, clinical assessments of Parkinson’s patients and the progression of their disease over time – the first app of its kind within the medical field. Currently, cloudUPDRS is undergoing clinical trial at University College London Hospitals.

The app’s purpose is to provide medical professionals with detailed, up-to-date feedback on Parkinson’s symptoms, essentially allowing them to formulate a more personalised care plan, tailored to the progression of the disease.

One of the largest obstacles in managing and monitoring Parkinson’s disease is the fact that each person’s symptoms are affected by different factors. These factors can range from mood, exercise, foods, social interactions and more. No single case is exactly the same.

In this case, consolidating these different factors and their influence on each patient can prove challenging, time-consuming and at times, considerably inaccurate. The app hopes to make sense of the progression of each person’s battle with Parkinson’s through measured and accurate collation of their individual symptoms.

Making sense of the disease progression in each individual

The app is designed to be user-friendly, allowing each patient to record their movements while performing simple actions throughout their day-to-day routine. The app then uploads this data to the cloudUPDRS server where a score is calculated in the format of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Results are then tracked over time, providing doctors with a trend analysis of a patient’s symptoms and their progression.

With thanks to the commitment and generosity of the Michael J Fox Foundation, Professor Roussos has explained that it allows his team the opportunity to use the benefits of computational tools in the fight against Parkinson’s. This new technology provides hope to Parkinson’s patients that their disease can be better managed, individually - for a more comfortable foreseeable future.

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