Trial in England of PKG Smartwatch to Monitor Movement Expanding

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by Steve Bryson, PhD |

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A £500,000 ($650,000) investment by the National Health Service of England will expand a clinical trial in that country of the Personal KinetiGraph, or PKG smartwatch, a wrist-worn device that can detect abnormal movements in people with Parkinson’s disease.

PKG, developed by Global Kinetics and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is a motion sensor device designed to monitor several motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, including tremors, abnormally slow movements (bradykinesia), and involuntary movements known as dyskinesia.

Worn on the individual’s most affected side, the device continuously and remotely measures these motor parameters and reminds patients when they should take their medications, particularly levodopa. It also tracks movements while patients sleep.

Motion information is processed and delivered to care providers, who can access the data remotely to inform decisions about treatment and other interventions to improve the daily life of patients, including physiotherapy or clinic appointments.

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The new investment will ensure that data collected by PKG will be linked to patients’ electronic health records, keeping them in one place for future assessment and care.

“As Parkinson’s is such an individual condition, care needs to be highly personalized,” Rowan Wathes, MD, associate director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network, said in a press release. “By highlighting changes that an individual may not have yet noticed themselves, technology can help clinicians to make treatment adjustments.”

PKG has been tested by the Home-Based Parkinson’s Care pathway project at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. A separate, observational study demonstrated that the device detected abnormal movements, especially bradykinesia, at earlier stages of the disease.

In the next phase of the trial, PKG will be available to patients at selected sites across England. If successful, Parkinson’s U.K. stated it will support the device being made available across the country as soon as possible.

In addition, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the U.K. published a briefing on using the PKG for Parkinson’s monitoring. A technology appraisal of the PKG that includes evidence from studies into its use is also underway, with a recommendation expected early next year.

“We provided early-stage funding and have continued to work closely with both the team at the University of Plymouth and Global Kinetics, the device manufacturer, to make sure that the user experience is as simple as can be,” Wathes said. “This is an exciting step forward and we are committed to supporting the rollout of the device to more sites and more people with Parkinson’s.”

Although the PKG can monitor motor symptoms, users need to report separately nonmotor symptoms that can include pain, cognitive problems, fatigue, and anxiety. Researchers at the University of Plymouth are developing and testing an app called NMS Assist to possibly track these symptoms and help patients manage them.