Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, trailing only Alzheimer’s Disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1% of the population aged 60 have Parkinson’s and the prevalence increases to 4% by age 80. Symptoms of PD can include bradykinesia, dyskinesia, fluctuations, tremor, and immobility. In 2014 we wrote about Global Kinetics Corporation‘s Personal KinetiGraph (PKG) used to measure tremor severity in Parkinson’s patients. At the time the PKG had just received FDA clearance. Since then PKG has also been approved for use in the European Union.

Global Kinetics recently announced the results of a big data analysis study of Parkinson’s symptoms with the Department of Neurology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden. PKG report data was analyzed from 10,000 PD patients from the U.S, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The data was collected over a five-year period from January 2012 to January 2017. Researchers found significant regional differences in PD motor symptoms. They posited that the differences in symptoms could be due to varying treatment options and clinical practices. The data also showed that “a meaningful proportion of patients” in all regions had “suboptimal control of their PD symptoms,” which in turn leads to higher health care costs and reduced quality of life. The advantage of using the PKG in the project was twofold. Patient symptoms can vary daily. Also, the PKG objective measurement and reporting is more reliable than patient self-reporting.

More objective studies of PD data are needed to substantiate specific regional differences. The PKG study already shows that big data and objective reporting provides a pathway to progress in understanding variations in PD symptoms and treatment modalities. The combination of wearable biometric monitoring devices and big data analysis in the PKG study is an early example of how working together the technologies can advance medical understanding and improve patient’s quality of life.