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Student Creates State Of The Art Device For Parkinson’s Disease

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Student Creates State Of The Art Device For Parkinson’s Disease

We all know the extremely high prices that large companies producing medical equipment demand for their products thus limiting access of countries with relatively small health budgets to quality health-care. Development of cheap technology that can diagnose, treat or help patients care for their disease is a strategy embraced by more and more scientists, medical engineers and small companies looking for profit today. It is the case of Di Pan, a doctoral student at ASU Department of Biomedical Informatics that has developed in partnership with Rohit Dhall of the Institute's Deep Brain Stimulation Clinic, a smartphone application that can evaluate tremors in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The device actually provides a communication pathway between Parkinson’s disease patients and their doctors. The app measures, stores then transmits tremors to a physician when they exceed a set value betraying disease progression or treatment interruption.

Medical App

Medical App

Pan began working on the project since 2011 as a research assistant. The idea of creating a such device popped up in his mind while playing a game on his smartphone that uses the phone’s accelerometer and immediately made a connection with Parkinson’s disease.

The only thing a patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease must do is to stick his smartphone on his ankle, tap the screen and wait 30 second for the accelerometer to record tremors. The device then updates the patient’s electronic medical records allowing physicians analyze the received data.

Although the application is not available for purchase in the popular online applications stores such as App Store or Android Market and still in the test phase (Pan still has to validate the app’s accuracy and usability of his device), its creator announced that it will be compatible with virtually any smartphone that runs on Apple or Android operating system.

Sure enough the number of visits to the doctor will be reduced using this application but are dependent on disease progression and compliance to treatment. If the data received from the patient’s smartphone is negative the patient must come to the clinic himself for revaluation.

For example, Levodopa is a drug currently used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Although patients generally notice a disappearance of symptoms during treatment, Parkinson’s disease symptoms can reappear and go unoticed with time. In this case the use of such device can help patients evaluate their response to treatment on a daily basis.