Super-fast Parkinson’s app will track symptoms more closely

SILVER SPRING, MD - JUNE 18: Dance instructor Lucy Bowen McCauley, right, leads her group of seniors in a variety of dance exercises during the Dance for Parkinson's Disease class at the Maryland Youth Ballet on June 18, 2013 in Silver Spring, Md. Dance instructor Lucy Bowen McCauley has been teaching the dance class for patients with Parkinson's disease for about five years. The dancing is said to be effective in helping with the symptoms of the disease. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A smartphone app that uses deep learning lets people with Parkinson’s disease test their symptoms at home in just four minutes. The app could help people monitor the disease’s progression more closely, and uncover how lifestyle factors may affect their symptoms.

“There’s very little understanding as to how Parkinson’s arises, and patients say that every day the condition is different,” says George Roussos at Birkbeck, University of London.

People report symptom changes related to everything from exercise to socialising to diet, but it’s not yet possible to build a solid picture of how these factors interact. “To understand these differences, we need to monitor the condition regularly, in a quick and easy way, over a long period of time,” says Roussos.

People with Parkinson’s usually only see a specialist once or twice a year. This makes it hard to track the disease progression in an individual in detail, and means that side effects of medication such as deterioration of mood can go unnoticed.

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