ResearchKit app provides Parkinson disease data to research community

A new app is better helping research on the cause and progression of Parkinson Disease by making more patient data available.

The mPower app, one of the first five apps built using Apple's ResearchKit, features surveys, questionnaires and tasks for Parkinson patients, according to a Scientific Data research report. It was built by nonprofit Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester, and launched in early 2015.

Now researchers can access the first six months of collected data, and the hope is that the information will lead to improved care, treatment and better disease prognosis, according to the report.

"Mobile phones and other networked devices offer a unique opportunity to engage research participants without requiring physical interactions. This approach allows classic implements, such as surveys, to be administered remotely," the researchers write. "These data may help establish baseline variability of real-world activity measurement collected via mobile phones, and ultimately may lead to quantification of the ebbs-and-flows of Parkinson symptoms."

The mPower research project is just the latest example of how ResearchKit is spurring new care and treatment insights. Thousands signed up to participate in disease investigation efforts when the platform initially debuted, and last September, Johns Hopkins University announced it would use ResearchKit to develop a better method for predicting epileptic seizures and gain in-depth insight on seizure impact to the human body. A month later, three U.S. universities announced collaborative efforts to use Apple's ResearchKit framework in studying autism, melanoma and epilepsy.

The mPower app research effort involves 9,520 participants who were given a dashboard of study tasks to undertake.

"We hope that releasing data contributed by engaged research participants will seed a new community of analysts working collaboratively on understanding mobile health data to advance human health," the researchers say.

For more information:
- read the Scientific Data article