Smartwatches are not just handy and fancy gadgets, but they may also have particular health benefits, as they can help diagnose Parkinson’s disease up to seven years earlier, according to a study conducted in the United Kingdom.
According to Sky News, researchers from the U.K. Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University have determined that smartwatches can play an important role in the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s.
The research analyzed data from the biomedical database called “Biobank,” which contains the health data of about half a million people in the U.K., with artificial intelligence.
The study followed the movement speed of 103,712 people who wore smartwatches for a week during the 2013-2016 period.
The data obtained from the smartwatches of the participants diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the seven years following the period were compared with those previously diagnosed with the same disease.
Accordingly, it was determined that the movements of the participants with Parkinson’s disease and those diagnosed with it within seven years were slower than the healthy individuals.
In the following years, the data of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease were different from those of healthy people, revealing that the symptoms of the disease could be diagnosed up to seven years earlier.
Lead researcher at Cardiff University, Dr. Cynthia Sandor, noted in her statement that thanks to the one-week data obtained from the participants, long-term predictions can be made about the health status of people.
Stating that they can develop a reliable and affordable method for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s from the findings, Sandor emphasized that motion-tracking devices and smartwatches can be used for medical observation.
One of the researchers, Dr. Kathryn Peall, said that data pointing to Parkinson’s disease could be distinguished from data on factors affecting movement speed, such as other neurodegenerative diseases and advanced age.
Peall underlined that the research gives hope for developing new therapies that will slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and the use of AI in diagnosis.
Parkinson’s, one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases worldwide after Alzheimer’s, affects the lives of nearly 10 million people.
The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine.