Identifying and Quantifying Neurological Disability via Smartphone

Front Neurol. 2018 Sep 4;9:740. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00740. eCollection 2018.

Abstract

Embedded sensors of the smartphones offer opportunities for granular, patient-autonomous measurements of neurological dysfunctions for disease identification, management, and for drug development. We hypothesized that aggregating data from two simple smartphone tests of fine finger movements with differing contribution of specific neurological domains (i.e., strength & cerebellar functions, vision, and reaction time) will allow establishment of secondary outcomes that reflect domain-specific deficit. This hypothesis was tested by assessing correlations of smartphone-derived outcomes with relevant parts of neurological examination in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. We developed MS test suite on Android platform, consisting of several simple functional tests. This paper compares cross-sectional and longitudinal performance of Finger tapping and Balloon popping tests by 76 MS patients and 19 healthy volunteers (HV). The primary outcomes of smartphone tests, the average number of taps (per two 10-s intervals) and the average number of pops (per two 26-s intervals) differentiated MS from HV with similar power to traditional, investigator-administered test of fine finger movements, 9-hole peg test (9HPT). Additionally, the secondary outcomes identified patients with predominant cerebellar dysfunction, motor fatigue and poor eye-hand coordination and/or reaction time, as evidenced by significant correlations between these derived outcomes and relevant parts of neurological examination. The intra-individual variance in longitudinal sampling was low. In the time necessary for performing 9HPT, smartphone tests provide much richer and reliable measurements of several distinct neurological functions. These data suggest that combing more creatively-construed smartphone apps may one day recreate the entire neurological examination.

Keywords: diagnostics; medical technology; multiple sclerosis; neurological examination; neurology; outcomes; precision medicine; smartphone app.