New smartwatch has potential to enhance personalised Parkinson’s care

As a new clinical trial begins, we explore the potential and next steps for a Parkinson’s watch that monitors symptoms.

NHS England has announced it is investing £500,000 to expand a trial of a smartwatch device that can monitor Parkinson’s symptoms. The watch will be used by people with Parkinson’s in England to enhance the care they usually receive. The investment will ensure that the data the watch collects will be linked to people’s electronic health records, keeping it all in one place for future care.

How does it work? 

The smartwatch, known as a Personal KinetiGraph, or PKG, has been tested by the Home Based Parkinson’s Care pathway project at the University of Plymouth. It is worn for 6 days and monitors movement symptoms as users go about their daily life. It also reminds them when to take their medications and tracks them as they sleep. 

The information is processed to deliver detailed data on symptoms such as speed of movement, tremor and activity levels. Care providers can access this information remotely to inform decision-making about treatment and interventions to improve everyday life, like physiotherapy or clinical appointments. 

Dr Rowan Wathes, Associate Director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network, said: 

"As Parkinson’s is such an individual condition, care needs to be highly personalised. Technological advances like the Personal KinetiGraph, which can monitor and report symptoms to healthcare teams, have the potential to transform Parkinson’s care. By highlighting changes that an individual may not have yet noticed themselves, technology can help clinicians to make treatment adjustments. 

"We provided early-stage funding and have continued to work closely with both the team at the University of Plymouth and Global Kinetics, the device manufacturer, to make sure that the user experience is as simple as can be. This is an exciting step forward and we are committed to supporting the rollout of the device to more sites and more people with Parkinson’s."

Where is it available? 

In this next phase of the trial, the device will be available at certain sites across England. We are currently finding out where these sites will be. This device is not yet widely available, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the results of the trial and any wider rollout plans, and we'll update you as we find out more. 

We know that some Parkinson’s teams in England, Scotland and Wales are also trialling these devices in separate research.

If the work proves successful, we’ll be campaigning for the device to be rolled out across the whole of the UK as soon as possible. 

The future

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a briefing on the use of the PKG for monitoring Parkinson’s.

The device is also going through its technology appraisal, which will evaluate the clinical evidence and will make a recommendation on future use. This should be completed in early 2023 and could make this technology a reality for everyone with Parkinson’s. 

The PKG can currently only monitor motor symptoms, with users needing to report their non-motor symptoms (eg fatigue, anxiety and pain) separately. But, with our help, researchers at the University of Plymouth are looking at ways to use technology to track this too.