Parkinson’s patients could be prescribed ‘revolutionary’ new smart devices on the NHS that can slow the incurable condition.
Five wearable gadgets that monitor the tell-tale symptoms of the condition are being reviewed by the NHS’ watchdog from next week.
Professor Ray Chaudhuri, head of Parkinson’s research at King’s College Hospital in London, said they could mark a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way the disease is treated.
The gadgets tell clinicians how often the user is moving and sleeping – two key indicators of possible complications from the degenerative brain disease.
If the patient is moving excessively and sleeping less, doctors may decide to change their medication, or offer other interventions such as physiotherapy, to stop the condition getting worse.
Some of the gadgets also buzz to remind patients to take their daily course of medication.
The NHS drugs watchdog NICE is set to review the tech next week and decide if they should be rolled out to the 140,000 Britons living with Parkinson’s.
Wearable tech that monitor the tell-tale symptoms of the condition mark a ‘paradigm shift’ that could see patients offered better treatment. Health chiefs are reviewing five cutting-edge gadgets — worn on wrists, waists or ankles for days at a time — that collect data on Parkinson’s symptoms. Pictured: Personal KinetiGraph made by Australia-based Global Kinetics, which is one of the devices being reviewed by NICE
The NICE panel will assess PDMonitor, made by London-based PD Neurotechnology, which tracks Parkinson’s symptoms through five lightweight monitors worn by patients on their wrists, ankles and waists. These measure activity, posture, bradykinesia (slowness of movements) and wrist and leg tremors. The package includes a SmartBox that the monitoring devices are placed inside to store and process the data
The third device, called STAT-ON works by measuring involuntary movements, slowness of movement and posture through a device worn around the waist. It’s made by Spanish firm Sense4Care
Two promising devices from US firm Great Lakes Neurotechnologies — Kinesia 360 and KinesiaU — are also up for review. The 360 version (pictured) includes sensors worn on the wrist and ankle which continuously record data, including dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements) and tremors. The sensors automatically upload the biometric information to the app through their charging pad. Doctors can access this, which scores their Parkinson’s symptoms
Meanwhile, KinesiaU measures tremor, slowness and dyskinesia through a smartwatch and smartphone app, which are shared with their doctor in real time
Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged.
Over time, patients will often begin to experience involuntary shaking, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible joints.
Doctors are still unsure what triggers it, and there is currently no cure, but patients can take drugs that reduce the main symptoms.
NICE’s first meeting to discuss the wearable tech will take place next Wednesday.
Experts will look at all available evidence and determine whether the devices are medically effective and a good use of the health service’s resources.
Studies involving hundreds of patients have shown the devices can improve or stabilise up to eight in 10 wearers.
Once a decision is made by NICE, a consultation will take place to gather views of patients and medics.
A second NICE meeting in October will see experts consider the responses. However, a final decision on the devices won’t be published until 2023.
The NICE panel will assess PDMonitor, made by London-based PD Neurotechnology, which tracks Parkinson’s symptoms through five lightweight monitors worn by patients on their wrists, ankles and waists.
Parkinson’s disease causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability
WHAT IS PARKINSON’S? THE INCURABLE DISEASE THAT STRUCK BOXER MUHAMMAD ALI
Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.
Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.
It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.
Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.
There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.
The disease claimed the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2016.
These measure activity, posture, bradykinesia (slowness of movements) and wrist and leg tremors through tiny sensors, similar to those found in an Apple Watch.
The package includes a SmartBox that the monitoring devices are placed inside to store and process the data.
Personal KinetiGraph — a wrist watch worn for six days twice a year — will also be assessed. It costs £175 and is made by Australia-based Global Kinetics.
The third device, called STAT-ON, works by measuring involuntary movements, slowness of movement and posture through a device worn around the waist, clipped to a belt or waistband. It is made by Spanish firm Sense4Care.
Two promising devices from US firm Great Lakes Neurotechnologies — Kinesia 360 and KinesiaU — are also up for review.
The 360 version includes sensors worn on the wrist and ankle which continuously record data.
The sensors automatically upload the biometric information to the app through their charging pad. Doctors can access this and score their Parkinson’s symptoms.
Meanwhile, KinesiaU measures tremor, slowness and dyskinesia through a smartwatch and smartphone app, which are shared with their doctor in real time.
Parkinson’s is caused by nerve cell damage in the brain, which cuts the production of chemicals involved in regulating movement.
Sufferers progressively lose their coordination and experience movement problems.
Tremors, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness are the three main symptoms. Some may also suffer balance problems, nerve pain and sleep disruption.
Those with more advanced Parkinson’s may suffer anxiety, depression and dementia.
Most Parkinson’s patients are given a drug called levodopa, which replenishes low levels of dopamine in their brain – vital for movement regulation.
However, users may suffer from nausea, fatigue and dizziness. And the drug becomes less effective over time.
But medics believe wearable tech could monitor symptoms, and work alongside other treatments to better manage the symptoms of the disease.
Professor Ray Chaudhuri, head of Parkinson’s research at King’s College Hospital, has been piloting PDMonitor with patients since March 2022.
Parkinson’s patients quality of life and disease progression depend on consistently checking in with the disease to make the best treatment decisions, Professor Chaudhuri said.
He said the PDMonitor marks a ‘paradigm shift in Parkinson’s care by improving the quality and timeliness of information physicians have to assess the disease’.
Professor Chaudhuri added: ‘Monitoring patients at home, continuously while they conduct everyday activities, allows treatment decisions to be made more frequently and physicians to respond faster to changing symptoms.
‘While you cannot reverse Parkinson’s, you can delay the deterioration of symptoms and possibly decrease the risk of falling. Optimising care means the disease progresses slower in time and the therapeutic window is kept open.’
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard has already endorsed the devices, claiming they will ‘dramatically improve’ patients’ quality of life.
The move is part of the NHS Long Term plan, which pledges to use the most advanced technology to help people be cared for more in their own home and use digital tools to guide treatment.
Around 137,000 people in the UK and 680,000 individuals in the US are living with Parkinson’s.
It is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain which stops the normal development of dopamine, which is vital in regulating movement of the body.
Scientists do not know what causes the loss of nerve cells, but most experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including exposure to pesticides and chemicals and previous head injury.