On the Path to Measuring Parkinson’s Progression

Image via Lafayette College

Image via Lafayette College

So I’m happy to say that we have just got our RCUK Medical Research Council (MRC) Confidence in Concept grant to start work on a combination on voice quality analysis, expression recognition, and passive sensing – ‘Towards a mobile health device for day to day monitoring of Parkinson’s disease’

The main aim of this project is to pilot a more complete and continuous measure of the daily functioning of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) [1]. This will bridge the gap between the needs of the person with PD to communicate their symptoms, the need of the clinician to understand the symptoms and their impact, and the constraints of the technology planned to be implemented in a mobile health device.

However, the disease progresses at variable rates and the range of deficits can lead to social isolation of the individual with PD. Consequently, one costly problem in monitoring the disease progression and treatment outcome is that it is difficult for clinicians to gauge the efficacy of treatments. This particularly relates to the infrequent but costly snapshot-like measuring of a person’s level of motor, cognitive, or emotional functioning that currently does not relate directly to everyday function and quality of life.

We therefore need a low-cost, unobtrusive, always-on, and longitudinal solution, which can track the everyday behaviour of people with PD, and consequently the disease progression and treatment outcomes allowing clinicians to understand if current treatments are effective in prolonging real-world functioning. This work will be a step along the way in getting to the solution using a cross-disciplinary and specialist combinatorial approach

Notes

  1. PD is a progressive degenerative disorder with initial movement symptoms followed by cognitive and emotional problems. Different treatments (drugs, exercise, cognitive) are used to control the disease and to slow its progression.
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