Science and technology

Chronic pain and Parkinson's disease present unique challenges for patients, both physically and mentally. With individual experiences varying greatly among sufferers, regular encounters with healthcare professionals may be limited, making personalized treatment crucial.

To address this, Sammeli Liikkanen, who conducted a doctoral study at the University of Turku, examined two digital therapies utilizing common smart devices like smartphones and activity trackers.

The groundbreaking findings reveal that these devices have the potential to aid in monitoring chronic pain and Parkinson's disease symptoms and support treatment in a clinically significant and reliable manner.

"The necessary technology already exists, and people are accustomed to using these devices in their daily lives. Now, the focus is on how to effectively utilize the data collected by smart devices in the healthcare sector," says Liikkanen.

Smart Devices for Identifying Chronic Pain and Parkinson's Disease

Liikkanen's research team successfully identified individuals suffering from chronic pain with remarkable accuracy using data collected from smart devices' motion sensors. They also discovered signals within this data that correlate with clinical variables, showing promise for real-time monitoring and individualized treatment adjustments.

The study also explored Parkinson's disease, primarily focusing on motion data analysis. Through collaboration with the research team, Liikkanen developed an AI-based model that can identify a person's movement type before analyzing specific symptoms. This two-step analysis method opens up entirely new possibilities for remote monitoring and treatment of Parkinson's disease.

A Path to Enhanced Care and Cost Savings

Liikkanen's research reinforces the idea that smart devices and AI hold the potential to support remote monitoring and treatment of chronic pain and Parkinson's disease. These developments could not only improve patient care and quality of life but also offer cost-saving opportunities in healthcare.

"Clearly, digitally delivered methods can enhance the treatment of chronic diseases. Reliable remote monitoring and guidance for chronic pain and Parkinson's disease without the need for physical visits to medical facilities could benefit patients, healthcare professionals, and society as a whole. However, it is essential to remember that, at least in the current world, no digital solutions or tools can replace the crucial interpersonal interactions between patients and healthcare providers in treatment situations. Perhaps, these innovations will allow more time for that essential empathy in face-to-face encounters," Liikkanen concludes.

In conclusion, the integration of smart devices and AI into healthcare holds great promise for the management of chronic pain and Parkinson's disease. As technology continues to advance, it opens up new avenues for personalized, remote monitoring and treatment, ultimately improving patients' well-being and reducing healthcare costs. However, it's essential to remember that the human touch and personal connections remain invaluable in delivering comprehensive care and support.