The app that could diagnose Parkinson’s 2018-10-31T13:59:57+01:00
research and development software

Phone app to help monitor Parkinson’s disease symptoms

Patients with Parkinson’s disease could benefit from faster assessment and diagnosis – thanks to artificial intelligence. Researchers have developed an app which uses a smartphone camera to film the way patients move their hands to determine the severity of their symptoms.

London medical firm Medopad and Chinese tech company Tencent have worked together on the technology with doctors from the Parkinson’s Centre of Excellence at King’s College Hospital. At the moment, a motor function assessment usually takes more than half an hour, but the hope is that this technology could assess patients within three minutes – possibly without them even having to go to a hospital.

The app instructs patients to open and close a fist while it measures the amplitude and frequency of their finger movements, which it converts into a graph for doctors. The goal is to eventually teach it to calculate a score automatically, showing the severity of patients’ symptoms. Videos of patients who had already been assessed by doctors were used to train the app.

A more prompt response

The technology has yet to undergo clinical trials, but Dr Wei Fan, head of the Tencent Medical AI lab, said it could be used to aid both early diagnosis and ongoing monitoring. Medopad chief executive Dan Vahdat added that if the app could be trained to detect whether a patient’s symptoms were worsening or improving, it could help doctors address these changes promptly, for example by changing their medication dose, potentially preventing complications.

“We can raise an alert,” he said in an interview. “It all happens through your phone, no matter where you are. You get flagged and your doctors say you should come in.”

Around 10 million people worldwide, including 127,000 people in the UK, are thought to be living with Parkinson’s, which is a neurodegenerative disease mainly affecting people over 50.Shaking, slow movement and inflexible muscles are the three main symptoms, and the condition can debilitate patients to the point where it is difficult for them to carry out everyday activities without help (so being able to be assessed in one’s own home would be practically advantageous).

Fan and Vahdat say similar technology could be used in the future to monitor children with brain cancer, to check their medication isn’t harming their mobility and dexterity – as well as knee surgery patients.

Apps and medicine

Many apps are being developed to increase the efficacy or practicality of diagnosing and monitoring medical conditions. From software and equipment to pharmaceuticals and clinical trials, companies carrying out scientific and medical research may be entitled to financial help from the government through research and development tax credit. It’s a scheme designed to support important scientific work  – and as a specialist R&D tax consultancy, we can do all the work and liaise with r&d tax claim for you. Take a look at our r&d tax credit calculator to get an estimate for the value of your claim – or call us at our Manchester office today.

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