‘Smartwatch’ to revolutionise Parkinson’s care, say researchers

Scientists believe that a smartwatch could significantly improve the wellbeing and medical care of people with Parkinson’s disease.

The smartwatch is part of Plymouth University’s revolutionary new project: Developing Home-based Parkinson’s Care.

The new project aims to design new services to help people with the disease live more independently, without compromising the level of care received.

The answer to this, the team say, is technology. The main focus of the project is a new wrist-worn device known as a Personal Kinetigraph. The watch-like device – which is worn at home by the patient – automatically monitors tremors and other symptoms, enabling specialist carers to spot problems remotely.

It comes after new research revealed that despite Parkinson’s patients supposed to be received a specialist review at least once every six months, there are often long delays.

According to the data, 46 per cent of consultant appointments are delayed by more than six months, while 60 per cent of patients have not seen a community nurse in the last 12 months. The study also reveals Parkinson’s ‘black spots’ across the UK – regions which simply do not have access to the specialist care required.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Dr Camille Carroll, Associate Professor in the University of Plymouth’s Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed) and Consultant Neurologist at UHPNT, said she hopes the watch will ease pressures on the overburdened NHS.

“The UK prevalence of Parkinson’s disease will increase by a fifth by 2025, so the challenges associated with providing a timely and patient-centred service will also be much higher,” she said.

“We want to help people with Parkinson’s to live the best lives they can for as long as they can, and this project aims to empower patients to take control of their own condition.”

Parkinson’s disease is a rare condition which progressively damages parts of the brain over a number of years. The most common symptoms of the disease – which affects around 41 in every 100,000 people – are involuntary shaking of the body, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles.