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University of Rochester Researchers Use BioStampRC® Sensors to Assess Parkinson and Huntington Disease Symptoms

Thursday, October 05, 2017   • Posted by MC10

The face of healthcare is changing. Thanks to wearable sensors, subjective measurements once limited to episodic in-person visits are now objective and continuous -- all while comfortably fitting into the day-to-day lives of patients.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Rochester used this technology to assess motor systems in two nerve-related disorders: Parkinson disease and Huntington disease. At the heart of the accelerometer-based wearable sensors collecting this data was the BioStampRC® System.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the details of the study and what its findings mean for the future of healthcare.

Assessing Motor Systems with Wearable Sensors

For their study, the researchers brought together 56 participants. Of this group:

  • 16 had Parkinson disease
  • 15 had Huntington disease
  • 5 had prodromal Huntington disease (they carry the genetic marker but don’t yet experience relative symptoms)
  • 20 had no movement disorders

Each of these individuals wore five BioStampRC wearable sensors, which were adhered to various parts of the body. The sensors were worn during in-clinic assessments and then for an additional two days at home, measuring the participants’ level of physical activity throughout this period. The 56 individuals were also asked to keep an activity diary that documented their predominant activity for every hour of the day.

From the measurements collected, the researchers found that those with Huntington disease spent 50% of their total time lying down. This was a significantly higher percentage as compared to other groups.

As part of the study, the researchers also had participants fill out a survey about their experience with the wearable sensors. Their feedback showed that 86% of the group would be “willing” or “very willing” to wear the sensors again.

The Promising Future of Wearables

The results from this study give another nod to the potential of wearables. In this particular case, the technology was able to pick up on significant differences between the activity of those with movement disorders and those without them. Further, the sensors were well-received by the study’s participants, showcasing their comfort and ease-of-use.

This combination of elements speaks to the benefits of wearables in both the clinical sense and from the perspective of the patient. They supply accurate, useful information that can advance clinical care while making the experience a pleasant one for patients.

Interested in learning more about this research study? Read through the full paper here.

Update as of 10/11/18: The University of Rochester was recently selected as a Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). As part of the funded research programs, Ray Dorsey, the director of the Center for Health + Technology (CHeT) and principal investigator of the new UR Udall Center, will collaborate with Ehsan Hoque, Ph.D., and Gaurav Sharma, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Goergen Institute for Data Science, URMC neurologists Jamie Adams, M.D., and Chris Tarolli, M.D., and researchers at MIT, the University of Michigan Udall Center, Intel and MC10 to develop and evaluate several remote monitoring and wearable technologies that will help researchers more precisely understand how Parkinson’s disease affects individuals beyond what is observed when patients visit the clinic, but also in their homes and daily lives."