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Apple Watch can detect symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, study reveals

Apple Watch can detect symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, study reveals

Smartwatches can detect symptoms of Parkinson’s and give scientists a better understanding of how to treat the disease, according to a new study. Neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in the US used an Apple Watch paired with an iPhone to monitor people with early stage Parkinson’s disease for a year.

They found that they were able to passively track symptoms like gait and tremor, while also gaining additional insights through voice recordings that revealed speech-related issues.

Patients with early Parkinson’s experienced significant declines in measures of gait, an increase in tremor, and modest changes in speech, data collected by the devices showed.

The smartwatch was able to pick up on decreases in arm swing, a common feature of the disease, and activity in the form of the number of daily steps.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to The NHS, are: tremors – shaking, which usually begins in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed and resting; slowness of movement (bradykinesia) – physical movements are much slower than normal, which can make everyday tasks difficult and result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with very small steps; muscle stiffness (rigidity) – stiffness and tension in the muscles, which can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions, and can result in painful muscle cramps (dystonia).

The findings are published in the journal npj Parkinson’s Disease in a study titled ‘Using a smartwatch and smartphone to assess early Parkinson’s disease in the WATCH-PD study over 12 months’.

June 17, 2024

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