Monday, April 6, 2015

The more unusual apps for Parkinson's Disease clients

As with everything these days, there are quite a few apps out there for those with Parkinson's Disease. Some of them are more interesting than others.

For example, Parkinson's Speech Aid helps the client to reduce the rate of speaking and makes talking easier. It uses the 'choral speech effect' that enables those with Parkinson's Disease (or stuttering - for a good video have a look here) to speak fluently. A good website discussing choral speech effect in PD can be found here.
If you followed the links, you gathered that the speech is improved by providing the client with a delayed 'echo' of their own speech. Clients usually carry a tiny device in their ear to provide them with the auditory trace. The app on the phone is designed to let those with Parkinson's Disease experiment with the effect and ultimately decide if they want to invest in the in-ear gizmo. A similar app, with the capacity to adjust a few parameters is DAF Assistant.

LiftPulse app is an app that records longitudinal data on hand tremor using the phone's accelerometer. Another one of these apps is TR_Meter.

Yet another interesting new app is the Parkinson mPower app, which is designed to let clients track their disease and contribute data to a longitudinal study on disease progression. Only available in the US for now. According to Apple:
The app will measure dexterity, balance and gait, voice, and memory at multiple times each day.   For example, patients will use the app to record their voice. Subtle changes to the voice, including tremor and reduced amplitude have been shown to be an accurate way to measure the severity of symptoms. The app will can also measure dexterity by tracking how fast a person can tap the screen on their iPhone. The device’s GPS and accelerometer can measure mobility and balance. '
 more information here.

The last app is  DigiTap, which is a finger-tapping test translated into the electronic format. There are a few useful features, such as a timer that only starts with the fist tap and prevents recording new taps after the time elapses. Alas, neither the app nor the website carries any suggestion that normative data is available. Is there any neuropsychologists in Australia that still use the finger tapping? If so, could you let us know in the comments what you think about the electronic alternatives?

These apps have an important thing in common - they fully use the capacity of their electronic platform. This is one thing that is lacking in most-computer-based neuropsychological tests. Most of them may as well be paper and pencil. Can we do better?


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