Using a smartwatch and smartphone to assess early Parkinson's disease in the WATCH-PD study

NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2023 Apr 17;9(1):64. doi: 10.1038/s41531-023-00497-x.


Digital health technologies can provide continuous monitoring and objective, real-world measures of Parkinson's disease (PD), but have primarily been evaluated in small, single-site studies. In this 12-month, multicenter observational study, we evaluated whether a smartwatch and smartphone application could measure features of early PD. 82 individuals with early, untreated PD and 50 age-matched controls wore research-grade sensors, a smartwatch, and a smartphone while performing standardized assessments in the clinic. At home, participants wore the smartwatch for seven days after each clinic visit and completed motor, speech and cognitive tasks on the smartphone every other week. Features derived from the devices, particularly arm swing, the proportion of time with tremor, and finger tapping, differed significantly between individuals with early PD and age-matched controls and had variable correlation with traditional assessments. Longitudinal assessments will inform the value of these digital measures for use in future clinical trials.