Smartwatches Can Detect Parkinson’s Disease before it is Diagnosed

Smartwatches Can Detect Parkinson’s Disease before it is Diagnosed

In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers have found that wearable movement-tracking devices, such as smartwatches with accelerometers, can identify Parkinson’s disease long before it is clinically diagnosed.

A team of researchers came to this conclusion by analysing more than 1,03,000 people who wore medical-grade wearables for seven days. The researchers found that a decrease in movement speed could be observed several years before a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

The accelerometer data proved to be a better yardstick than other models based on medical symptoms, genetics, lifestyle, or blood biochemistry data, and could potentially be incorporated into clinical practice in the future, believe the researchers at the UK Dementia Research Institute and Neuroscience and Mental Health Innovation Institute at Cardiff.

A 2021 study showed that wrist-worn accelerometers can detect Parkinson’s with high accuracy. However, the utility of its findings was limited, as the study focused on people already diagnosed with the ailment. Building on this work, the new study explored the possibility of using wrist-worn accelerometers to identify Parkinson’s years before clinical diagnosis.

In Parkinson’s disease, the deterioration of specific brain cells causes problems with movement and other health problems that get worse over time. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that reverses or stops the disease.