Sometimes a digital device can have more than one use. For example, the Apple Watch turns out to be useful in tracking symptoms of a disease.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the central nervous system that can lead to uncontrollable muscle tremors, making it difficult to walk or talk. Medication can help control the symptoms, but there is no cure. One important part of managing the disease is to track the progress of the symptoms. Typically, this is done in a doctor’s office using somewhat subjective testing. The FDA recently cleared the use of an app from Rune Labs that uses data from an Apple Watch to monitor the symptoms of a patient with Parkinson’s. The motion sensors in the watch capture the wearer’s movements over extended periods of time, instead of from just a short clinical visit. This data can help track the progress of the disease and monitor the effectiveness of medications and other treatments. This won’t cure Parkinson’s but it could help make it easier for tens of thousands of patients to manage the disease.