PD is a neurodegenerative disorder that slows down movement in patients, and in extreme cases, leads to physical disability. Currently, there is no cure for PD. Existing interventions for disease management lack efficiency, rendering alternative solutions paramount. The EU-funded PROPHETIC project proposed to develop an ICT management system that allows remote monitoring of PD patients. “The aim was to be able to measure multi-parametric factors of PD patients and enable medical staff to provide personalised and adaptable care,″ explains project coordinator Prof. Dimitris Koutsouris. Initially, the consortium analysed all the state of the art technology innovations related to disease management before commencing with the design of the platform. At the same time, partners identified user requirements and designed the overall architecture of the system. Several factors had to be accounted for as PD is caused by insufficient dopamine formation in the brain’s dopaminergic neurons. This decreased stimulation of the brain affects movement and cognition to differing degrees in PD patients. Gaming interventions for PD The consortium exploited modern smart miniaturised systems and advanced information systems towards an infrastructure for remote and continuous acquisition of multi-parametric data. The PROPHETIC system comprised wearable electronics (suit and cap) that utilise embedded electronics capable of measuring neural, psychological, physiological, and biomechanical parameters. These are securely communicated to a Medical Business Intelligence System. Processing of this information by healthcare providers allows monitoring and diagnosis of PD patients in a non-invasive manner. Interestingly, the PROPHETIC platform features friendly exercising and gaming interventions that are tailored to the level of motor and speech impairment of the patient. In general, games that require coordination of body movements contribute to sensory and motor skill maintenance, while games that involve questions and answers improve cognition and memory. Benefits of the PROPHETIC approach Gaming is expected to enhance PD patient compliance with medication as well as enable clinicians to prevent medication-associated side effects and determine patient health and motor status in real time. Based on this, healthcare providers and caregivers can administer early treatment interventions such as adjustment of the medication, physical therapy or speech therapy. “This means that by using friendly technology such as smart phone or PAD, appropriate information could be shared between medical staff, family, and patient,″ continues Prof. Koutsouris. Furthermore, patients, carers and family could utilise PROPHETIC to search information about PD, thereby improving patients’ quality of life and autonomy. To disseminate the PROPHETIC platform and its aims, a special video was prepared that also features on the project official website. Although clinical validation on PD patients is pending, the platform was vigorously tested in healthy individuals who were monitored and trained with the games. Basic scenarios of use were also set up, and with valuable input from PD experts, the consortium addressed many technical issues. Following demonstration of the PROPHETIC platform to clinicians, the consortium has formalised a protocol for clinical validation. Prof. Koutsouris envisages “the platform to be a success, improving PD patient awareness and enabling treatment.″ Considering the expected rise in degenerative disorders with the increasing ageing population, the PROPHETIC approach surely offers hope for the effective management of PD.
PROPHETIC, Parkinson’s disease (PD), intervention, gaming, medication