Kirkland, Wash. – In a first of its kind study, EvergreenHealth and nQ Medical will be evaluating a prospective new device to better analyze the consistency and severity of symptoms for people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

The device utilizes passively-collected natural typing activity on patients’ personal computers to better assess and characterize these symptoms, according to a joint news release from the two medical groups. Data generated from this novel, non-invasive method of assessment will be compared to commonly used physician scales.

The study, which will be conducted at the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care Center at EvergreenHealth in July 2022, aims to enroll approximately 50 participants. Compensation for participation will be provided.

“This is an exciting opportunity to help make a difference in how Parkinson’s Disease symptoms are monitored and managed,” said Dr. Pinky Agarwal, neurology specialist at EvergreenHealth. “We know that every day can bring a new or different challenge to those living with PD.” 

To be eligible for the study, participants must be diagnosed with PD within the last 10 years; be willing to install the proprietary application on their computer for the 4-week study duration; and use their computer for at least 15 minutes per day on average during the study.  

“Effective symptom management of this condition is very important and that starts with having the ability to accurately understand each patient’s symptoms in between visits,” Agarwal said. “We’re thankful for the scientists and patients who dedicate their time to this important body of research.”

PD is one of the most common movement disorders in Washington state and the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder in the western world, the release states. There are nearly 1 million people in the United States affected by this disease, and more than 6 million people worldwide.

Parkinson’s is commonly characterized by the presence of classic motor impairments—tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability and gait difficulty—resulting from the loss of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in the central nervous system. The release said subtle motor manifestations in the early phases of PD can precede the clinical diagnosis by several years. 

Those suffering from PD often have difficulty managing common daily activities on a regular basis. The release said there are currently no disease modifying agents approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s. However, symptom management is key to supporting the best possible quality of life for those living with it.

Currently, clinicians are extremely limited in their ability to gather reliable and consistent data to help make informed treatment decisions. During a physical examination, clinicians are able to directly observe patient symptoms and function. But these examinations only offer periodic snapshots which leave longer periods of time where motor impairments and function are not directly monitored.

As a result, physicians must rely on patients and caregivers to accurately fill in the gaps over time frames when PD symptoms are known to fluctuate, which can lead to necessary changes in treatment going unidentified.

To gather objective data in between in-person visits, the nQ Medical tool assesses aspects of fine motor performance from streams of consciousness typing on personal computers. The application is compatible with both Apple and Windows computers, the release said. 

Unlike a keylogger, the device monitors “how” patients type and not “what” they type. Using a machine-learning method of analysis, the application looks for subtle patterns in the cadence of typing.

“This study is tremendously important to the PD community,” said Rich Bayasso, founder and CEO of nQ Medical. “Having more thorough, long-term, objective data that tells the full-spectrum story about a patient’s symptoms overtime means that we can make even more informed decisions about the next steps in their care plan for PD symptom management.” 

To learn more about the study, contact the EvergreenHealth research team at 425-899-5385.

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