How Technology Can Support Those with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson‘s disease is a long-term degenerative disorder of one’s central nervous system that mainly affects a patient‘s motor system. The disease affects the way the person suffering from it lives and carries out their day-to-day activities. Recently, new monitoring, assistive, and wearable Parkinson‘s disease technology has helped support daily activities for PD patients‘, improving their lives significantly.  

New digital innovations and practical solutions technology is positively impacting the lives of people with Parkinson‘s disease. With more inventions to support treatment and daily routines, their quality of life can only get better with time.

Read on to learn more about how technology can support those with Parkinson‘s disease and how doctors are making strides to help manage the disease.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, refers to using electronic information and telecommunication technologies to provide healthcare services when the doctor and patient are not in the same place at a particular time.

Since Parkinson‘s disease is a movement disorder, some patients have difficulties traveling from home to health carefacilities and arranging office visits. That’s where telemedicine comes in, offering a viable solution. Telemedicine is preferable to Parkinson‘s patients because being at home is easier and more comfortable than traveling now and then.

Another way telemedicine can be of great value and support to individuals with PD is through remote medical communication. It enables better communication between the doctor and the patient, although it comes with its challenges.

However, there must be some specific tools present at the patient‘s home to help with their evaluation. 

Wearable Sensors

There are specific sensor modalities that we can apply in remote visits to Parkinson‘s patients. These sensors include:

  • Biopotential specific sensor units: Electromyography (EMG) and electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Environmental sensor units: Video cameras
  • Motion sensor units: Gyroscopes and accelerometers

Technology can support PD medical checkups and visits by remotely tracking how patients are using their medication.

In addition, some supportive technologies fully compensate for any other challenges related to the disease. In fact, with the help of these sensors, doctors can quantify how effective rehabilitation and medication therapies have been.

Why Use Wearable Sensors?

The main reason why PD patients wear sensors is to capture data. Doing so is essential as it helps in:

1. Improving Diagnosis of Parkinson‘s Disease

Some wearable technology helps develop an algorithm that makes PD diagnosis clearer.

2. Improving PD Monitoring

With a wearable sensor, the doctor can better track the patient‘s progress through reliable information transmitted through the sensors. Subsequently, this enables them to administer medication adjustments more accurately.

3. Tracking Fitness Routine

Personal fitness tracking devices can significantly support individuals with PD. It encourages them to remain more active and stick to their exercise schedule too.

4. Improving Clinical Trial Data

The way physicians currently determine medication effectiveness to PD patients is not sufficient. However, with data from wearable sensors, the accuracy of how effective clinical trial medication is can significantly improve. In fact, most pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing devices to help with this.

Smartphone Apps for Patients With PD

The smartphone is one device that can really support people with Parkinson‘s disease. Many apps are currently available in these smartphones to help address various aspects of PD patients‘ needs.

The apps work hand in hand with the wearable sensors to track, record, and store data. The sensors are integrated into these smartphones to gather information regarding the patient‘s condition and progress. The sensors include those that track finger tapping, memory condition through playing memory games, walking, and speaking.

social media mobile phone

Below is a list of some apps specifically developed to support those with Parkinson‘s disease:

Parkinson mPower app

This app uses sensors in the patient‘s smartphone to measure their balance, gait, and tremor. The app tracks and stores this information anytime the patient engages in certain activities specifically designed to generate these details.

DAF Professional

This is an app for Android and iOS devices. With this speech therapy app, Parkinson‘s disease patients can slow down their speech, making it sound clearer to people around them.

Parkinson Home Exercises

This is a video app for android and iOS devices downloadable from Google Play or Apple Store. It features Parkinson‘s-friendly exercises that target posture, flexibility, walking, and balance.

Lift Pulse

This app for iOS and Android, initially designed for research purposes, can be of great help to PD patients and caregivers. Through algorithms and sensors built in the patient‘s phone, the app recognizes, tracks, records, and calculates the extent of the individual’s hand tremor.

Parkinson‘s EasyCall

People with PD can easily make phone calls with this smartphone app.

Assistive Technology for Computer Access

Parkinson‘s disease patients also need access to computers. The question is, how can we make this easier? Several technological inventions today make accessing computers more successful.

For example, there are desktop computers with a voice control system. The system allows the person to control the machine with their voice.

However, as much as voice recognition software is beneficial to many PD patients, it would be good to have a secondary way of accessing the computer besides voice recognition. That’s because it may fail to work sometimes.

Products That Aid Computer Access

The following are products that can assist people with PD. These products offer ease of use so that those living with Parkinson‘s can access a computer more effectively:

Keyguards

For PD patients who struggle with weak arms or hands or tremors, keyguards can help them access the keyboard more successfully. These devices are plastic, or metal pieces, with each key represented by a hole cut into the metal or plastic.

What one does is rest their hands on the keyboard. To access a particular key, place a finger inside the key’s specific hole. Keyguards highly minimize the chances of making typing errors. Also, once fatigue sets in, you can easily rest your hand on the keyboard.

Rollermouse

A rollermouse is a handy device that in no way resembles the standard mouse. Instead, it looks like a fancy wrist rest consisting of buttons.

You can access this pointing device positioned on the lower side of your keyboard with two or more fingers.

To effectively use the rollermouse, it may be best to refer to a video or instruction guide in order to understand how it works completely.

With this kind of mouse, people with Parkinson‘s disease can access a computer with more stability and less movement. In addition, features such as roller bar clicking and one-hand mousing can help increase their accuracy and speed.

Over the years, the individual with PD will develop and improve their skills in left-clicking, using the roller bar, and keeping their fingers on keys while using the thumbs on the mouse.

ErgoRest Arm Supports

For people with Parkinson‘s whose arms, shoulders or necks are weak or experience pain, the ErgoRest Arm Supports is an ideal device.

Aside from supporting the arms, these devices make you more stable when accessing your computer, helping increase accuracy with the mouse and keyboard.

The above devices can come in handy when using services like the one below. Now that most things occur in the digital world, it’s essential to have access to computers and the advanced functions that make them operable for those with Parkinson‘s.

Letter Writing Services

Because Parkinson‘s disease attacks the nervous system, those diagnosed with it may find difficulties in performing everyday tasks such as writing letters, grocery lists, or keeping in contact with their loved ones.

In a time when family is needed the most, many with Parkinson‘s face the challenge of not being able to stay in contact with their families. Thanks to the advances in technology, many platforms are stepping up to alleviate the isolation that may come with the symptoms of Parkinson‘s.

Handwrytten is a letter writing service that uses robotic machines to customize your letters. These machines use real pens and can mimic actual handwriting to where it’s unrecognizable that it’s written by a robot. You can customize your writing to reflect your own, and easily send birthday, anniversary, or any other type of cards to your loved ones to stay connected. You can also use the letter writing service to keep in touch with those you care about. 

The best part is that you can schedule notes, so you will never miss a special event. 

Wrap Up

Technology can support people with Parkinson‘s and improve their quality of life. However, a technology designed to help people with neurodegenerative conditions like PD should be more user-friendly than the average technology. 

Using services like Handwrytten can keep loved ones connected and improve the quality of life of one diagnosed with Parkinson‘s disease. With features that work to cut back on the isolation of those suffering from this disease, they can experience the love and comfort of their support system despite the challenges they face daily.

Providing those with PD with such technology goes a long way in enhancing their independence and improving their life. 

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