A new study from the Southern Medical Program (SMP), based at UBC Okanagan, has examined the use of wearable health technology and telehealth to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. The study is published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.

Dr. Daryl Wile, a movement disorder specialist and SMP clinical assistant professor, routinely uses telehealth to connect with Parkinson’s patients across the vast and rugged landscape of BC’s Interior.

“Even prior to the pandemic, telehealth helped deliver specialized care to patients living in remote and rural settings. But with the complex nature of Parkinson’s, we wanted to enhance these appointments to better understand how movements vary throughout a patient’s entire day.”

— Daryl Wile, a clinical investigator with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management

To add a new layer of health information, Wile and the research team added wearable technology to the equation, a media release from University of British Columbia Okanagan campus explains.

“We recruited Parkinson’s patients with either tremors or involuntary movements. We then divided them into two groups — some using telehealth and device-based health tracking and others attending traditional face-to-face appointments.”

— Joshua Yoneda, SMP student and co-author of the study

Wearable Device Tracked Movements

The telehealth group wore wearable devices to track their movements, involuntary or not, throughout waking hours. The reported data was then reviewed during telehealth appointments to identify peak times patients experienced Parkinson’s symptoms.

“With the integration of accurate and reliable data from wearable devices, we were able to tailor a patient’s medication to better manage their symptoms throughout the day,” adds Wile.

As part of the study, patients were asked a series of questions from the standardized Parkinson Disease Quality of Life Index. Both study groups were assessed at intervals of 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months.

Overall, the patients using the wearable devices reported positive experiences and health outcomes in combination with telehealth appointments to access specialized care, the release continues.

“There’s definitely a strong case to leverage multiple technologies to improve a patient’s quality of life and limit the added stress and cost associated with travel,” says Yoneda.

[Source(s): University of British Columbia Okanagan campus, Science Daily]

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