Increasingly, assessment tools are available that use computer programmes to monitor your symptoms and provide feedback to your care team 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. Such information can complement other subjective information you may provide, for example using a patient diary to track your pattern of symptoms or response to medication.
Information provided by an objective measurement tool can be helpful, for example in prescribing more effective treatments or adjusting deep brain stimulation settings. It can also reveal how you are responding to new treatments.
DaTSCAN™-SPECT is a scan that detects levels of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Loss of these cells leads to Parkinson’s. It involves injecting the person with a product containing a small amount of radioactivity which binds to dopamine-releasing cells and can then be measured. DaTSCAN can be used to distinguish Parkinson’s from conditions that cause similar symptoms, such Essential Tremor and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB).
Kinesia (movement) assessment
Kinesia technology provides tools to assess the motor (movement) symptoms of people with Parkinson’s for clinical trials. This system includes a patient kit linked to the Internet for motor assessment. People taking part in the trials complete automated, video-guided motor assessments at home or in the clinic to provide precise data on symptoms such as tremor, bradykinesia and dyskinesia.
Parkinson’s KinetiGraph™ (PKG™) is a worn-on-the-wrist medical device that continuously measures the movement of people with Parkinson’s at home when carrying out their daily activities. Its main component is the PKG™ Watch (similar to a large watch) that automatically records your movement pattern data. Worn continuously for 6-10 days, it also vibrates to remind you when to take your medication.
The information collected is used to build a detailed and objective picture of your motor symptoms and how they are affected by your medication. This data helps your neurologist to understand how Parkinson’s affects you and how well you respond to treatment, so your medication can be adjusted if necessary. By providing an objective and continuous quantification of your bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and dyskinesia during your daily activities, the PKG™ overcomes many of the limitations of traditional movement disorder assessments made via momentary clinical observations or patient self-reporting, which often prove to be unreliable.
For more information, see Global Kinetics.
There are a growing number of ‘apps’ available for mobile devices. These can help you track different aspects of your Parkinson’s. It is important to remember that apps may not have been medically evaluated and you should therefore discuss with your doctor any that you plan to use.