Smartphone-Based Monitoring of Parkinson Disease

Background: Hand tremor typically has a negative impact on a person’s ability to complete many common daily activities. Previous research has investigated how to quantify hand tremor with smartphones and wearable sensors, mainly under controlled data collection conditions. Solutions for daily real-life settings remain largely underexplored.Objective: Our objective was to monitor and assess hand tremor severity in patients with Parkinson disease (PD), and to better understand the effects of PD medications in a naturalistic environment.Methods: Using the Welch method, we generated periodograms of accelerometer data and computed signal features to compare patients with varying degrees of PD symptoms.Results: We introduced and empirically evaluated the tremor intensity parameter (TIP), an accelerometer-based metric to quantify hand tremor severity in PD using smartphones. There was a statistically significant correlation between the TIP and self-assessed Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) II tremor scores (Kendall rank correlation test: z=30.521, P<.001, τ=0.5367379; n=11). An analysis of the “before” and “after” medication intake conditions identified a significant difference in accelerometer signal characteristics among participants with different levels of rigidity and bradykinesia (Wilcoxon rank sum test, P<.05).Conclusions: Our work demonstrates the potential use of smartphone inertial sensors as a systematic symptom severity assessment mechanism to monitor PD symptoms and to assess medication effectiveness remotely. Our smartphone-based monitoring app may also be relevant for other conditions where hand tremor is a prevalent symptom.