University of Waterloo’s new study has shown that wearable sensors technology can be used to remotely monitor health-related behaviours in patients with heart-related conditions. The research was published in “Journal of Neurology”.
“Information from wearables could provide insight into health-related patterns and disease symptoms as they occur over a period of days or weeks. This could be used to monitor disease progression and assess the impact of therapies, in addition to clinic assessments,” Karen Van Ooteghem, a Waterloo researcher in Kinesiology and Health Sciences at Waterloo. Ooteghem explained that the research program validates new outcomes from wearables and provides avenues to communicate this information to patients as well as clinicians.
Van Ooteghem stated that it was crucial for researchers to understand the feasibility of participants’ natural environments as behaviours in clinic and lab may not reflect daily life. Researchers recruited 39 people with cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases to wear five devices continuously on their ankles, wrists, and chest for seven days at home or in the community. This was after a clinic visit. Multiple sensors can be used to capture specific symptoms and behaviours for people with complex health conditions. Participants wore at most three devices for a median 98% of the study period. They were also assigned a study partner to help them with any issues that might arise during the course of the study.
Beth Godkin, a Waterloo Kinesiology and Health Sciences doctoral candidate and first author of the paper, suggested that participants’ willingness to wear the technology may have been affected by the support they received during the study. Researchers also learned from participants and study partners that there are still areas for improvement in the technology that could improve the user’s experience. Godkin said that participants felt it was important for the technology to be comfortable, easy to use, and attractive if they were wearing sensors for a long time. They also felt that there should be an effort to ensure that the technology does not interfere in their daily lives.
Godkin said, “The generally positive responses from participants and willingness of them to engage in multisensor wear over a longer period is the first step towards meaningful integration in larger research studies and ultimately for uptake in clinical care.” The Ontario Brain Institute funded the study. (ANI)
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