Using smartphone technology for clinical tests

We use it for calling, sending SMS, taking pictures, or even for reading this document, but the device in our pockets can be turned into an advanced instrument capable of collecting and processing the more subtle movement or tremor of the body. In the elderly, it would be possible to recognize the early motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, to estimate the fall risk, and to distinguish between fit and frail subjects. A group of researchers at the University of Bologna, developed the application and made a comparison between a smartphone and an ad hoc device for movement analysis, used for clinical application in research and in specialised laboratory. The results, just published in the international scientific journal Gait & Posture, confirm the validity of a smartphone to instrument common clinical tests like the Timed Up and Go. The Android application makes use of the embedded inertial sensors and benefits from the smartphone high computational capabilities; the study finds evidence that smartphones are capable of becoming a pervasive and low-cost tool for the quantitative assessment of balance and mobility. This summer, the European project FARSEEING, will start a trial on a large scale with hundreds of elderly people involved from the InCHIANTI study of the Azienda Sanitaria Firenze, Italy.

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