Jean-Francois Daneault, an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Health Professions, was awarded a $400,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health to use wearable and mobile data via a smartphone to diagnose and monitor movement disorders.
Daneault told NJBIZ that the advantage of using a smartphone is that it could provide clinicians with much more high quality information to inform their treatment decisions.
“Currently, clinicians base their treatment decision on what they see when the patients are in the room and what patients or their spouse/partner recall as significant over the past weeks/months. These are highly unreliable sources of information to base a treatment decision on,” Daneault said.
He added that since most people now have smartphones, a properly designed app with specific data analysis could provide much more reliable information to clinicians.
“Furthermore, the smartphone could also eventually be used by patients themselves to help in the self-management of their disease. The goal is to provide clinicians and patients a reliable tool to improve patients’ quality of life and clinical outcomes,” Daneault said.
With an aging population, Daneault said that more people are living with movement disorders but there is a shortage of neurologists and movement disorder specialists trained to diagnose and manage treatment.
“We propose leveraging smartphones to help non-specialists in the diagnosis, monitoring and management of movement disorders that often exhibit overlapping symptoms, such as Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and other functional movement disorders,” said Daneault.
Daneault said that smartphone-based platforms will assess the severity of symptoms such as balance, gait, rest tremor, upper limb coordination and cognitive impairments.
Data collected from smartphone embedded sensors will be transmitted to a secure server, where it can be analyzed. Using data comparison from a control group of healthy people, algorithms will be developed to gauge the severity of symptoms, and distinguish different movement disorders from one another.
Ultimately, said Daneault, the study will assess whether the smartphone platform is an effective way to monitor patients over the long-term. Patients will be asked to use the smartphone application at home to determine longer-term compliance.