A newly unearthed patent reveals that Apple is exploring how a future Apple Watch could help doctors monitor the symptoms of Parkinson's patients.
"There are an estimated 600,000 to 1 million cases of Parkinson's Disease in the United States and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year," reads the filing, which goes on to describe the symptoms sufferers have to live with. "Symptoms of PD include... tremor and dyskinesia. Dyskinesia is an uncontrollable and involuntary movement that can resemble twitching, fidgeting, swaying or bobbing."
The patent states that dyskinesia and tremors can occur when all of the other features of Parkinson's Disease are being managed through medication. Unfortunately, the dopamine replacement therapy can also cause more pronounced side effects, and doctors have to rely on in-clinic tests and patient reports to regulate their treatment effectively.
"A patient's quality of life is largely dependent on how precisely clinicians titrate and schedule the patient's medications to minimize the patient's symptoms. This is a challenge for clinicians because each patient has a different combination of symptoms that can change and become more severe over time. Also, in any given day the symptoms may fluctuate based on medications, food intake, sleep, stress, exercise, etc."
The feature uses motion sensors to monitor the wearer's movement and the data gathered is analyzed on the device using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). According to Apple, this allows the data to be collected more reliably and means the sufferer doesn't need to keep close track of their symptoms and can better plan activities around symptom patterns.
The image above shows a patient wearing an Apple Watch, but the patient doesn't specify that the feature would be limited to a wrist-based device, suggesting it could make its way into an iPhone, or perhaps even an electronic finger ring.