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Smartwatches Enable Early Detection of Parkinson’s Disease, Up to 7 Years in Advance

London: New research suggests that smartwatches have the potential to identify Parkinson’s disease up to seven years before the appearance of hallmark symptoms and a clinical diagnosis. Researchers analyzed data collected by these devices, which measured individuals’ movement speed over a seven-day period. While the causes of Parkinson’s disease are not yet fully understood, scientists are working on improved methods for predicting the risk of developing the condition. PREDICT-PD, a research project funded by Parkinson’s UK, aims to test and refine an algorithm for predicting Parkinson’s risk. Smartwatches Enable Early Detection of Parkinson’s Disease, Up to 7 Years in Advance.

However, the researchers caution that further studies, comparing these findings with data from around the world, are necessary to assess its accuracy. Researchers from Cardiff University in the UK demonstrated that combining smartwatch data from just one week with artificial intelligence (AI) can help identify individuals who will develop Parkinson’s disease approximately seven years later. This breakthrough could potentially serve as a new screening tool for Parkinson’s, allowing for the detection of the disorder at a much earlier stage than current methods permit.

Early Detection through Smartwatches: Identifying Parkinson’s Disease Years Before Symptoms Manifest

During the study, participants were all over 60 years old and did not have a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The researchers believe this approach could be used as an effective screening tool for early detection. Dr. Cynthia Sandor, the study leader and an emerging leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University, stated, “With these results, we could develop a valuable screening tool to aid in the early detection of Parkinson’s.” The study classified 33 patients as high-risk and 95 patients as low-risk based on the algorithm employed.

Smartwatches Enable Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease, Up to 7 Years in Advance

Dr. Cynthia Sandor, from the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University, highlighted the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of smartwatch data, stating, “By using this type of data, we would potentially be able to identify individuals in the very early stages of Parkinson’s disease within the general population.” She added that this development has implications for research by improving recruitment for clinical trials and for clinical practice by enabling patients to access treatments at an earlier stage when available.

Utilizing Smartwatches for Parkinson’s Detection: A Potential 7-Year Precedence of Symptom Identification

Six years later, participants underwent a second assessment. By that time, two individuals from the high-risk group had received a formal Parkinson’s diagnosis. Unfortunately, a diagnosis often comes when irreversible damage to brain cells has already occurred. Dr. Sandor further commented, “We have shown here that a single week of captured data can predict events up to seven years in the future. With these results, we could develop a valuable screening tool to aid in the early detection of Parkinson’s.”

Dr. Kathryn Peall, clinical senior lecturer in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, explained that for most people with Parkinson’s disease, many affected brain cells have already been lost by the time symptoms manifest. As formal diagnoses were rare in this study, the researchers assessed rates of sub-threshold parkinsonism, where patients displayed some Parkinson’s-like symptoms but not enough for a formal diagnosis.

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