The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light to an application of Apple Watch to monitor Parkinson’s disease, developed by San Francisco-based startup Rune Labs.
As reported by Reuters, pre-existing Apple Watch sensors can already detect falls, tremors and other movement disorders consistent with Parkinson’s symptoms. But Rune Labs has taken things a step further with its app, collecting individual data on the symptoms patients are experiencing so it can be shared with doctors to determine the best course of treatment.
Brian Pepin, CEO of Rune Labs, said the data Apple Watch collects through its Parkinson’s monitoring app will be combined with data from other sources, such as brain implants. He also added that the app uses Rune Labs’ StrivePD software to send doctors continuous streams of data to give movement patterns more context. This provides more data than doctors would get from looking at a patient coming in for a brief clinic visit, since the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease change over time.
“When you think about the process of getting someone to their optimal therapy or combination of drugs or devices, or even whether a patient might be a good fit for a certain clinical trial, it’s a very difficult decision to make when you only have a little bit of information.” context,” Pepin said.
Developers have been testing Apple Watch Parkinson’s disease monitoring since Apple introduced its ResearchKit framework in 2015. Originally, this allowed the Apple Watch to track users’ gait by asking them to walk 20 steps in each direction. Three years later, Apple updated ResearchKit with the Movement Disorder API, which can detect two common symptoms of Parkinson’s: tremors and dyskinesia, a side effect of Parkinson’s drugs that causes restless, swaying movements.
The Parkinson’s monitoring app is the second Apple Watch software to receive FDA approval after the agency approved AFib History for use in watch OS 9 after his WWDC presentation last week. This feature tells users diagnosed with atrial fibrillation how often their heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation, which, if left untreated, can lead to stroke and other cardiovascular complications.