Pilot Project Tests Wrist Device That Monitors Symptoms at Home

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Personal KinetiGraph (PKG)

A pilot project in the United Kingdom is testing a wrist device that is worn like a watch, called Personal Kinetigraph (PKG), to help Parkinson’s patients and their specialist healthcare providers to monitor their condition at home.

The PKG, developed by Global Kinetics, will be tested in the “Developing Home-based Parkinson’s Care” project, led by researchers at the University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHPNT).

The wearable technology monitors patients’ motor symptoms, using a proprietary algorithm to process the data. Participants also are asked about their non-motor symptoms, including changes in mood, to supplement the movement data delivered by the PKG.

Patients will wear the device for six-day stints, during which their care team will identify and implement necessary treatment changes. The specialist Parkinson’s team will work remotely to ensure necessary help — calls or clinical appointments — is offered when needed.

In the U.K., current guidelines recommend that Parkinson’s patients see a specialist every six months, no matter the stage of their condition. Care is usually provided by a consultant and community Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist (PDNS).

However, results from a recent survey showed that almost half of these appointments (46%) are delayed by more than six months. In 60% of the cases, patients can go an entire year without an appointment. Some regions of the U.K. don’t have the specialist service, and 50% of vacant PDNS positions are due to long-term sick leave or resignation, the audit showed.

“The UK prevalence of Parkinson’s disease will increase by a fifth by 2025, so the challenges associated with providing a timely and patient-centered service will also be much higher,” Camille Carroll, the project leader and an associate professor at the University of Plymouth’s Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed), said in a press release.

“The existing service puts a lot of pressure on nurses, and attending clinics is arduous for both patient and carer as it presents logistical and physical challenges that add to burden and distress,” said Carroll, also a consultant neurologist at UHPNT.

“We want to help people with Parkinson’s to live the best lives they can for as long as they can, and this project aims to empower patients to take control of their own condition,” she added.

The project will start with 150 patients from Plymouth city, West Devon and East Cornwall.

“The new project is designed to reduce the burden of attending hospital clinics; improve motor and non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms; ensure appropriate and timely contacts to health-care services; and result in improved quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their carers,” Carroll said.

“If successful, the intervention will prove a means of providing a resilient and sustainable service faced with the future demands of a condition that is increasing in prevalence and complexity,” she added.

The project also will bring together both clinicians and caretakers by providing “co-design workshops” to ensure that patients’ needs and expectations are assessed and met.

A Parkinson’s patient from Looe who is enrolled in the project is pleased with the device’s ease of use.

“Using the PKG is simple and gives the specialist an easy and quick way of monitoring my Parkinson’s disease remotely. Hopefully the new service design will make life easier for others like myself living with the condition,” John Whipps said.

“One of the hardest things with Parkinson’s is trying to decide when your Partner needs their extra doses of medication. The PKG results help take the guesswork out of that, which is really valuable for ensuring the best care possible,” said Sue Whipps, his wife and caregiver.

The pilot project is being delivered in partnership with the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, Flourish Workplace, Sheffield Hallam University, Global Kinetics Corporation, Parkinson’s UK, Fre-est, Radboud University, the South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) and UCB Pharma.

It’s been funded with £75,000 ($97,619) from the Health Foundation and £15,500 ($27,176) from a Parkinson’s UK Excellence Network Service Improvement Grant.

“The PKG is an exciting example of how technology has the potential to transform care in conditions like Parkinson’s,” said Julie Dodd, director of Digital Transformation at Parkinson’s UK.

“People tell us that one of the most frustrating things about the condition is how unpredictable it is, no two days are the same, which makes it incredibly hard to plan,” Dodd added.