Smartwatches can detect early signs of Parkinson’s

Smartwatches can detect early signs of Parkinson's

Changes in movement that are detected by smartwatches can help show that Parkinson’s disease (PD) years Before the onset of symptoms, new research shows.

Analysis of wearable activity tracker data from UK Biobank participants showed a strong correlation between reduced daytime activity over 1 week and a clinical diagnosis of PD up to 7 years later.

“Smartwatch data is easily accessible and cheap. By using this type of data, we can identify individuals in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease within the general population”, Cynthia Sandor, PhD from Cardiff University. , said in a statement.

“We have shown here that a single week of data captured can predict events up to 7 years in the future. With these results, we can develop a valuable screening tool to aid in the early detection of Parkinson’s disease,” she added.

“This has implications both in research, improving recruitment into clinical trials, and in clinical practice, in providing patients with early access to treatments, in the future when such treatments are available,” said Sandor.

The study was published online on July 3 Natural medicine.

A Novel Biomarker for PD

Using machine learning, researchers analyzed accelerometer data from 103,712 UK Biobank participants who wore a medical-grade smartwatch for a 7-day period from 2013 to 2016.

At or within 2 years after accelerometry data collection, 273 participants were diagnosed with PD. An additional 196 individuals received a new PD diagnosis more than 2 years after accelerometry data collection (prodromal group).

Patients with prodromal symptoms of PD and those diagnosed with PD showed significantly reduced daytime acceleration up to 7 years before diagnosis, compared to age- and sex-matched healthy controls, the researchers found.

The reduction in acceleration both before and after diagnosis was unique to patients with PD, “suggesting this measure is disease-specific with potential for use in the early identification of individuals who may be diagnosed with PD,” they wrote.

Accelerometry data proved more accurate than other risk factors (lifestyle, genetics, blood chemistry) or recognition of prodromal symptoms of PD in predicting whether an individual will develop PD.

“Our results suggest that accelerometry collected with wearable devices in the general population can be used to identify those at high risk for PD on an unprecedented scale and, importantly, individuals who may change within the next few years can be included in studies for neuroprotective treatment,” the researchers concluded in their article.

High quality research

Weighing in on the results in a statement from the British non-profit Scientific Media Center, José López Barneo, MD, PhD, with the University of Seville, Spain, said that this “good quality” study “fits with current knowledge.”

Barneo noted that other investigators have also noted that slowness of movement is a characteristic feature of some people who later develop PD.

But these studies involved groups of people at risk of developing PD, or they were conducted in hospitals that required medical staff to perform motion analysis. In contrast, the current study was conducted on a much larger cohort from the general British population.

Also, José Luis Lanciego, MD, PhD, with the University of Navarra, Spain, said “The main value of this study is that it has shown that speed measurements obtained using a wearable device (such as a smartwatch or other similar device) are more useful than the evaluation of other potential prodromal symptoms in determining which person is in [general] The population has an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in the future, as well as the ability to predict that it will take many years to start suffering from this neurodegenerative process.

“In these diseases, early diagnosis is somewhat questionable, as early diagnosis is of little use if neuroprotective treatment is not available,” Lanciego noted.

“However, it is very important for use in clinical trials aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of new potential neuroprotective treatments whose main objective is to slow down – and, in particular, even stop – the clinical progression that is typical of Parkinson’s disease,” added Lanciego. .

The study was funded by the UK Dementia Research Institute, the Welsh Government and Cardiff University. Sandor, Barneo and Lanciego have no relevant disclosures.

Nature Med. Published online on July 3, 2023. Abstract

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