New Research Demonstrates Wireless Sensor Can Track Gait Disruption, Parkinson’s Progression at Home
Monday, 26th September 2022

Newly published research, partially funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), details a successful effort to track gait issues and the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD) using a wireless sensor in the home. Disruptions in a person’s gait (the way they walk) create dangerous challenges for people with Parkinson’s. This difficulty is a key indicator of Parkinson’s progression, but it is currently measured by subjective clinical assessment, which isn’t particularly sensitive to changes in condition. Measuring gait disruptions at home could drastically improve the ability of clinicians to respond to changes in condition and personalise a person’s treatment to the intensity and patterns of their symptoms.

The research marks a step forward in efforts to bring this technology to the public. The paper, published in Science Translational Medicineshowed the effectiveness of a wireless device mounted in a person’s home, which bounces radio waves off the person to measure movement. The scientists demonstrate the device can help in assessing PD severity, tracking progression and providing objective data on symptoms.

The information obtained through the wireless monitoring device could prove invaluable to patients and clinicians alike. Doctors could, for example, track a person’s response to new medicine in real time without them ever needing to come to a follow-up clinical appointment. It cuts down on all the difficulties of in-person clinic visits while also making the telemedicine experience more effective. It could also help researchers hoping to track how well a trial intervention might work, paving the way for faster, more accurate testing of potential new treatments.

To obtain the data, a research team, led by Professor Dina Katabi, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Emerald Innovations, continuously monitored 50 people both with and without PD for one year. That regimen collected them more than 200,000 gait speed measurements. The researchers found their assessments from those measurements lined up with gold-standard PD assessments.

Unobtrusive home monitoring would drastically change the ability of clinicians to respond to the needs of their patients.

Dr. Katabi says of the research, “We hope this research will show the way forward for more sensitive, personal measures of PD progression. Each person with Parkinson’s deserves to be treated as an individual. Accessible data on a person’s condition allows clinicians to customize treatments and follow along with patients’ symptoms as they live their daily lives.”

Reliable, objective measurements of Parkinson’s progression, especially those taken consistently and unobtrusively, offer enormous potential for Parkinson’s treatment going forward. Finding these measurement tools remains a key priority for MJFF and an integral part of our funding portfolio.

Source: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research