UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Parkinson’s disease: current assessment methods and wearable devices for evaluation of movement disorder motor symptoms - a patient and healthcare professional perspective AlMahadin, Ghayth; Lotfi, Ahmad; Zysk, Eva; Siena, Francesco L; Carthy, Marie M; Breedon, Philip


Background: Parkinson’s disease is the second most common long-term chronic, progressive, neurodegenerative disease, affecting more than 10 million people worldwide. There has been a rising interest in wearable devices for evaluation of movement disorder diseases such as Parkinson’s disease due to the limitations in current clinic assessment methods such as Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and the Hoehn and Yahr (HY) scale. However, there are only a few commercial wearable devices available, which, in addition, have had very limited adoption and implementation. This inconsistency may be due to a lack of users’ perspectives in terms of device design and implementation. This study aims to identify the perspectives of healthcare professionals and patients linked to current assessment methods and to identify preferences, and requirements of wearable devices. Methods: This was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews followed by focus groups. Transcripts from sessions were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Results: It was noted that the well-known assessment process such as Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) was not used routinely in clinics since it is time consuming, subjective, inaccurate, infrequent and dependent on patients’ memories. Participants suggested that objective assessment methods are needed to increase the chance of effective treatment. The participants’ perspectives were positive toward using wearable devices, particularly if they were involved in early design stages. Patients emphasized that the devices should be comfortable, but they did not have any concerns regarding device visibility or data privacy transmitted over the internet when it comes to their health. In terms of wearing a monitor, the preferable part of the body for all participants was the wrist. Healthcare professionals stated a need for an economical solution that is easy to interpret. Some design aspects identified by patients included clasps, material choice, and form factor. Conclusion: The study concluded that current assessment methods are limited. Patients’ and healthcare professionals’ involvement in wearable devices design process has a pivotal role in terms of ultimate user acceptance. This includes the provision of additional functions to the wearable device, such as fall detection and medication reminders, which could be attractive features for patients.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)