Cedars-Sinai researchers tap wristwatch for Parkinson's disease trial

A Cedars-Sinai research team is testing a new data logger, the Personal KinetiGraph, to track Parkinson's patients' movements every 2 minutes over a period of six to 10 days, as well as medication intake.

The goal through using the tool, a device that resembles a wristwatch, is to boost patient quality of life and provide neurologists with greater insight on the disease.

Michele Tagliati, M.D. (pictured), director of the Movement Disorders Program in the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai, tells FierceMobileHealthcare in an interview that he believes the data logger technology may be a game-changer for treatment and disease management.

Currently, he says, it's nearly impossible for physicians to make treatment decisions on the information gleaned from symptoms and brief patient interactions. Tagliati and colleague Echo Tan, M.D., decided to launch the 60-patient clinical trial once the device received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

Initial findings are proving valuable, according to the researchers, and offering physicians deeper understanding of symptoms, pain management and patient experiences.

In addition to talking about the tool and the pilot, Tagliati also shares his perspective on the state of the mobile healthcare technology industry as it relates to Parkinson's Disease. 

FierceMobileHealthcare: What has been the initial patient feedback from your research?

Michele Tagliati: We are still in the recruitment phase and have not yet analyzed the results of the study. Patient feedback, however, is extremely positive. They find the device easy to wear and possibly contributing invaluable information for their disease management.

FMH: What primary tools and technology do physicians rely on currently to gain insight on Parkinson's Disease (PD) and its advancement?

Tagliati: Aside from DaTscan technology, which measures dopamine content in the brain, Parkinson's Disease management is still mainly a clinical practice, based on patient's report and doctor's observations and personal opinions.

FMH: What is the compelling feature/capability of the PKG data logger that prompted the trial?

Tagliati: The ability to collect passive information about PD patients' mobility in relation to their medication timing. If properly validated, this is extremely important information that would be virtually impossible to obtain and may guide physicians to more accurate and effective management of the disease.

FMH: What do you expect to see in the next few years in terms of devices used to monitor diseases like Parkinson's?

Tagliati: There is a blossoming industry developing wearable technology for PD and other diseases, as well. In addition to motor fluctuations, we expect devices that will monitor gait and balance and possibly provide active feedback to patients in order to avoid falls.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.