Apps and wearables for patients suffering from neurological diseases

Recent article in Neurology Now about digital health and connected devices via Neurology Now.

What if your watch could alert you to a seizure ahead of time so you could get to safer ground or ask someone to call 911? Or if a wristband could detect changes in the progression of your Parkinson’s disease, allowing your doctor to adjust your treatment plan? What once seemed like science fiction is now reality for more patients with epilepsy and other neurologic disorders, as wearable electronic monitoring and alert devices paired with mobile phone apps enter the market.

Unlike old-fashioned methods of data collection, which rely on handwritten patient logs and calendars, these wristbands and smartphone apps record events and changes in real time, revealing a more comprehensive and objective portrait of daily symptoms. “With this more precise information, we can often spot problems even before a patient is aware of them,” says Joseph I. Sirven, MD, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (FAAN), and a member of the Neurology Now editorial advisory board.

The first generation of these devices was developed for patients with epilepsy, both by researchers and by small startup companies or garage-based operations whose founders had a loved one with the condition. Early prototypes alerted family members via smartphone that a seizure was happening. Today, more sophisticated devices can detect impending seizures or track changes in walking and other symptoms in patients with movement disorders.

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