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How wearable devices can help people with Parkinson’s communicate better with their doctors

Jennifer Stratten

In this short film, we follow Fred, a person with Parkinson’s, and his wife Olive on a visit to their neurologist. Together, they reveal how simple wearable devices – such as the Parkinson’s KinetiGraph™ – produce objective data that can help consultation discussions and guide the treatment decision-making process.

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) has produced a short film that aims to shine a light on how wearable devices that capture data can help improve communication between people with Parkinson’s and their doctors, as well as inform doctors on how effective a treatment is and when adjustments are needed.

Increasingly, assessment tools are available that use technology to monitor people’s symptoms and provide reliable feedback to care teams based on ‘objective measurements’. In the case of Parkinson’s, objective measurements are obtained from devices or equipment that quantify a physical variable (usually a symptom) so as to obtain accurate measurements rather than rely only on subjective, human assessment.

The four-minute EPDA film focuses on Fred, 81, a British man who has lived with Parkinson’s for 12 years. He and his wife Olive visit his Parkinson’s specialist neurologist, Dr Dominic Paviour, to receive their objective measurement tool: a Parkinson’s KinetiGraph™ (PKG™) watch.

The PKG™ watch is a wearable device for the wrist that is used to objectively measure and record symptoms during a seven-day period. The information collected by the PKG™ watch generates a report that informs communication and discussion between the patient, carer and doctor about certain symptoms and events that have been experienced during the recording time.

Traditionally, people with Parkinson’s and their carers keep track of symptom fluctuations by keeping a diary. However, symptoms may vary significantly during the day – not to mention days and months – resulting in stringent diary keeping, which is often time consuming and based on memory (and not necessarily fact).

”What the patient says is incredibly valuable, nuanced and individualised, but one has to wonder how accurate that information is, and whether they are actually just telling me about some of the symptoms they have had in the preceding days or weeks,” said Dr Paviour, a consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital in London, UK, when interviewed for the film.

By generating continuous and objective measurements via a Parkinson’s wearable device, a person’s symptoms can be recorded. This, therefore, frees the individual from trying to remember all their symptoms throughout the day and then writing them down correctly in a diary later.

”The PKG helped me to understand what his [Fred’s] typical day was like, and helped me to make some medication changes to improve his symptoms,” continued Dr Paviour. ”While the PKG™ is not telling us which medical adjustments to try, it is just another piece of data that guides our decision-making process.”

Lizzie Graham, executive director of the EPDA, believes the film could be a valuable tool to help empower patients and families in their own Parkinson’s decision-making process. “This documentary-style film shows clearly how objective measurement data can provide a neurologist and/or healthcare professional with accurate day-to-day information for a person with Parkinson’s.

“This data, in turn, makes it easier for doctors to better tailor a treatment to that specific individual.

“This type of information is invaluable in helping the neurologist better understand a person’s situation, which can ultimately determine whether a change in therapy is required or not.

“We hope this film inspires people with Parkinson’s and their families to ask their healthcare teams about what options are available that could help them get the right treatment at the right time for them.”

For more information about objective data measurement, visit Assessment tools.

The film has also been translated into FrenchDutch and German.


This film and article was sponsored by Global Kinetics Corporation Ltd (GKC). The Parkinson’s KinetiGraph™ shown in the film is manufactured by Global Kinetics Corporation Pty Ltd and distributed by GKC. GKC takes no responsibility for the views and comments expressed in the film. 

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