People with Parkinson’s could see their care transformed thanks to the development of a new service involving wearable technology.
The project, entitled Developing Home-based Parkinson's Care and led by University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and the University of Plymouth, will see patients use a wrist-worn device at home, known as a Personal Kinetigraph (PKG®), to inform the integrated specialist team how best to support and treat a person’s Parkinson’s.

The project has received £75,000 funding from The Health Foundation and £15,500 from a Parkinson’s UK Excellence Network Service Improvement Grant and is being delivered in partnership with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), Flourish Workplace, Sheffield Hallam University, Global Kinetics Corporation, Parkinson’s UK, Fre-est, Radboud University, the South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) and UCB Pharma. The project will initially be delivered to 150 patients in Plymouth city, West Devon and East Cornwall, as a pilot. If successful, the team hopes the system could be rolled out across the UK.

A cornerstone of the project is the use of the PKG wristband, developed by the Global Kinetics Corporation, to monitor movement symptoms of Parkinson’s and process these through a proprietary algorithm and supplemented by a questionnaire that asks patients to detail non-motor symptoms such as changes in mood. The patients will wear the PKG for six-day stints, enabling them and their care team to identify and implement any required changes to therapy.The specialist Parkinson’s team can then work in an integrated way, ensuring that help – including calls or clinic appointments – can be offered when it is needed.

Current guidelines suggest that people with Parkinson’s should receive specialist review at least every six months, but a recent audit of patient experience, conducted by the project team, found that 46% have consultant appointments delayed by more than six months, and 60% have not seen the community nurse within the last year. 

Project lead Dr Camille Carroll, Consultant Neurologist at University Hospitals Plymouth who sits on CPT's International Linked Clinical Trials committee, said:

The UK prevalence of Parkinson’s disease will increase by a fifth by 2025, so the challenges associated with providing a timely and patient-centred service will also be much higher. The existing service puts a lot of pressure on nurses, and attending clinics is arduous for both patient and carer as it presents logistical and physical challenges that add to burden and distress. We want to help people with Parkinson’s to live the best lives they can for as long as they can, and this project aims to empower patients to take control of their own condition. The project is designed to reduce the burden of attending hospital clinics; improve motor and non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms; ensure appropriate and timely contacts to health-care services; and result in improved quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their carers. If successful, the intervention will prove a means of providing a resilient and sustainable service faced with the future demands of a condition that is increasing in prevalence and complexity.

Helen Matthews, Deputy CEO, The Cure Parkinson's Trust said,

Given that each person with Parkinson’s presents with their own combination of symptoms and side effects, it is a difficult condition to treat, let alone cure. This visionary project really puts the needs of individuals living with Parkinson’s and their care partners at the heart of service delivery, with objective data informing how treatment could be optimised and personalised, which will have a significant impact on quality of life. For the first time Parkinson’s specialists will have an insight into the impact of Parkinson’s at home – this has important implications for being able to evaluate new treatments in clinical trials in the future.