Using Smartphones to Measure Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Woman holding smartphone on couch
Mobile technology has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, including how we manage our health. A recently launched substudy (a subset of a larger research question) from Parkinson’s disease researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital will look into utilizing patient-owned smartphones to measure symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The results will help researchers better understand the feasibility and accuracy of using mobile technology as a data collection tool in clinical trials.

Participants in this substudy will use an mPower app called ‘Smart4SURE.’ Within the app, patients will answer symptom surveys similar to those administered during in-person clinic visits. They will also complete activity tests that utilize the sensors in the phone to assess performance in movements that are impacted by Parkinson’s disease – including walking, standing, tapping on the phone and saying “ah.“

This substudy, which is part of a larger NIH-funded Parkinson’s disease clinical trial, hopes to expand and diversify study enrollment by making it easier for patients to participate. More broadly, researchers are optimistic that mobile technology will transform clinical trials and provide an opportunity to track participant progress more frequently than is possible with in-clinic evaluations.

Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, of the MGH Department of Neurology is the study’s lead investigator. Learn more about the substudy here.

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