There are many situations in which people experience impairment of their quality of life. One of the most significant is that of mobility, both in healthy people and in patients with motor impairments such as Parkinson’s disease.
In relation to the latter disease, the ability to move, especially when walking, is as an important reference for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The detection of the motor impairment in this disease by using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (and using Hoehn & Yahr) is purely subjective to the naked eye and is based on the experiences of neurologists and a snapshot from the clinical environment.
To allow neurologists access to objective and continuous data, project partners ASTRUM IT, the Department of Molecular Neurology of the University Hospital Erlangen and the Pattern Recognition Lab of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, have developed a mobile sensor system for automated motion analysis. The sensor system is used for diagnostic support, the treatment monitoring of the patient in the home environment and the support of clinical trials.
The system delivers data with which it is possible to detect the early onset of Parkinson’s disease from a movement disorder and to assess it objectively. The aim of the system is for the objective mobile motion analysis, and thus improved care for patients in all stages of Parkinson’s disease. The decisive factor is: The sensor system not only answers the question “How much a patient moves,” but above all the question of the quality of the movement.
Research began in 2012 and the project is funded the project by the Bavarian Research Foundation.
The system analyses standardised exercise tests and normal transition sequences and compares the measured movements with the diagnoses of movement specialists. From the raw data 700 biometric features are then extracted and analysed using mathematical methods of pattern recognition. Individual patient or control populations can thus be classified.
Being developed in Erlangen — which is known as the “Medical Valley of the European Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg” — the project forms a Germany-wide concentration of expertise in the areas of sensor integration and sensor networking.
Photo credit: “ASTRUM It GmbH”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from eGaIT.