Investigating an app to improve non-motor symptom management

An app for people with Parkinson’s to remotely monitor and manage their non-motor symptoms is now entering the testing phase.

An app called NMS Assist is being developed by researchers at Plymouth University, people with Parkinson’s and their care partners. The app would allow people with Parkinson’s to remotely monitor and manage their non-motor symptoms.

Parkinson’s has more than 40 symptoms, with tremor, rigidity and stiffness being the most commonly recognised. But non-motor symptoms, including bladder problems, insomnia and depression, can have a massive impact on the quality of day-to-day life and be hard to monitor from one appointment to the next. 

NMS Assist hopes to overcome this by allowing people with Parkinson’s and their carers to keep an accurate record of their symptoms and access self-management guides. The plan is for the data from the app to be linked with a person’s healthcare team, allowing them to make interventions between appointments and have better informed conversations.

Parkinson’s UK funds latest stage of development

The latest stage of development is being funded by Parkinson’s UK. The project’s clinical research phase begins this year when 60 people with Parkinson’s, their care partners and their healthcare team will use NMS Assist for 12 months. Researchers will monitor how they use the system, as well as learn about their experience. They will be asked if they feel more knowledgeable and confident about managing their symptoms and feel better equipped to discuss problems with their healthcare professionals.

Dr Camille Carroll, Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth and Honorary Consultant Neurologist and Parkinson’s Service Lead at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, said:

"Non-motor symptoms have a huge impact on the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s and their care partners. Often people are unaware that these symptoms, such as bladder problems, insomnia and depression, are part of their Parkinson’s and so might not discuss them in a clinic appointment. People are also often unaware that there are simple things that they can do to manage those symptoms themselves. I’m determined to make it easier for people to access the information they need to help themselves, and to allow them to ask for specialist advice when they need it. 

"The aim of NMS Assist is for people to log and monitor their non-motor symptoms, access self-management guides and information, and register their concerns with their healthcare team. We believe that this will help people manage and treat their non-motor symptoms and improve their daily lives."

Professor David Dexter, Associate Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, said:

"We’re very pleased to be part-funding this research towards this potentially game-changing app. What sets this app apart from others, is that it was developed and co-created with people with Parkinson’s and their care partners.

"We're proud to be pioneering person-centred care and funding new research that puts people with Parkinson’s at its centre. This is essential to providing better treatment and care for the 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK."

Will you help fund the testing phase of NMS Assist?

Together, we can help find a way for people with Parkinson’s to better manage and monitor their non-motor symptoms.