"AP­PLE’S MO­BILE DE­VICES HAVE NOW EN­TERED THE ARENA OF MED­I­CAL DI­AG­NOS­TICS AND RE­SEARCH — YET ONE MORE NEW DI­REC­TION FOR AP­PLE THAT WILL LIKELY HAVE REV­O­LU­TION­ARY CON­SE­QUENCES IN OUR LIVES."

iPhone Life Magazine - - Life + Tech - Jim Karpen, Ph.D, is on fac­ulty at Ma­har­ishi Univer­sity of Man­age­ment in Fair­field, IA. He has been writ­ing about the rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­se­quences of com­puter tech­nol­ogy since 1994. His Ph.D dis­ser­ta­tion an­tic­i­pated the In­ter­net revo­lu­tion. His site, jimkar

The Univer­sity of Rochester and Sage Bionetworks de­vel­oped mPower to help re­searchers un­der­stand Parkin­son's. It uses the iPhone to pre­cisely mea­sure data such as man­ual dex­ter­ity, bal­ance, mem­ory, and gait. Within days of the an­nounce­ment, over 8,000 peo­ple down­loaded the app and joined the study. That level of par­tic­i­pa­tion would oth­er­wise be im­pos­si­ble or hugely ex­pen­sive and time con­sum­ing, but with the iPhone and mPower app, it's vir­tu­ally free. Re­searchers say that mPower will help speed up the dis­cov­ery of med­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal knowl­edge about Parkin­son's.

The app in­cludes di­ag­nos­tic tests, such as a tap test that as­sesses hand tremors. There's also a vo­cal test that uses the iPhone's mi­cro­phone to de­tect minute vo­cal-cord vi­bra­tions. A walk test mea­sures the per­son's gait and bal­ance us­ing the iPhone's ac­celerom­e­ter and gy­ro­scope. The app also au­to­mat­i­cally pulls in ac­tiv­ity data. Re­search has shown that ex­er­cise can slow the progress of Parkin­son's and im­prove bal­ance and co­or­di­na­tion.

Of course, this new ap­proach isn't with­out is­sues. For in­stance, par­tic­i­pants in Re­searchKit stud­ies are self-se­lected and there­fore un­likely to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the en­tire pop­u­la­tion. There's also cur­rently no way to ver­ify that a par­tic­i­pant ac­tu­ally has the dis­ease in ques­tion. Still, Re­searchKit's power comes from its po­ten­tial to easily re­cruit par­tic­i­pants and gather ac­cu­rate data from sen­sors. And hope­fully, these other is­sues will be worked out over time.

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