It turns out that the motion sensors in the Apple Watch could be a useful tool for Parkinson’s patients and their doctors, as software that helps people with Parkinson’s disease track symptoms through the Apple Watch has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The program, called StrivePD, automatically tracks things like tremors and allows patients to report symptoms and medication use.
San Francisco-based digital health startup Rune Labs has created software for watchOS that can detect common Parkinson’s disease symptoms such as tremors, involuntary or slow movement and poor balance.
It is noteworthy that forms of remote monitoring of Parkinson’s disease via smart phones and others have been in existence for some time. But this is the first program designed for the Apple Watch that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for movement disorders.
The software allows doctors to track their patients’ progress and any changes in symptoms caused by the neurological disorder, which causes involuntary movements and difficulty with coordination.
Collecting negative data means that patients don’t have to try to remember those fluctuations. It is also a rich source of data on how Parkinson’s patients respond to different medications.
Apple Watch used to monitor Parkinson’s disease
“ With all the data we collect and the patients we reach through this authorization, we make sure that the appropriate participants are enrolled in trials ,” Brian Pepin, CEO and founder of Rune Labs, said in a statement. This, he explained, makes trials more efficient and brings the drugs to market more quickly.
Patients use the application for about a year. But the new approval means doctors are allowed to access patient data from the Apple Watch. It also means allowing the results to be used as data for clinical trials across many Parkinson’s disease treatments.
Since Watch Series 4 was first released in 2018, the wearable has been able to detect heavy falls and provide advanced activity metrics.
That same year, Apple added a movement disorder API to ResearchKit, opening the door for developers to create watchOS apps to track Parkinson’s and other diseases.
As Rune Lab notes, it was the first company to use the motion disorder API for commercial purposes.
StrivePD uses Apple’s Movement Disorder API to allow researchers to pull information about tremors and involuntary movements associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Other companies are also taking advantage of the movement disorder API to provide similar information for Parkinson’s patients.
Apple is not officially involved in the Rune Labs project. But the company has updated its software to comply with FDA requirements, and has written a letter supporting Rune Labs.
Apple also conducted its own research on its Apple Watch and Parkinson’s disease. In 2021, the company ‘s researchers published data showing that the watch can accurately track changes in the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s patients.