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An App for Staying on Schedule with Parkinsonís Medications

A smartphone app helped people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to take medications on time and track symptoms, according to a recent clinical trial. The study appears in the January 9 online edition of npj Parkinson’s Disease.

As PD progresses, the medication regimen for most people becomes complicated, with different PD medications taken several times a day, alongside drugs for other illnesses such as heart disease. It’s very important that these medications be taken on time. It has been thought that smart phone applications that record symptoms might help people with PD to keep track of medications, while helping their doctors to better understand their symptoms.

Researchers led by Adrian Williams, M.D., at University Hospitals, Birmingham, UK, tested a smartphone app designed by uMotif Ltd., to help people with PD keep track of medications and symptoms. Its featured reminders to take medications; an interface to record sleep, exercise, mood, energy and ease of movement; games to gauge physical responsiveness and cognition; and information about PD.

The study included 158 participants in England and Scotland who averaged 61 years of age and had lived with PD for four years. Among the participants, 68 received the app, and 90 continued their usual routines without the app. All participants visited the clinic at the beginning of the study to fill out questionnaires about aspects of their PD, and again 16 weeks later.

Results

  • Of the study participants who received the app, 72 percent used it once a day or once every other day.
  • Study participants who used the app adhered to their medication schedules significantly better than those who did not use the app.
  • Study participants who used the app were more satisfied with their clinical consultation at the end of the study than those who did not use the app.

What Does It Mean?

Parkinson’s medications work best when they are taken according to their planned schedule. Indeed, previous research has shown that a person’s quality of life can be significantly improved by taking medications on schedule. This study finds that a smartphone app is one way to help people with PD stick to their medication regimen. The app tested in this study included alerts to tell a person when it time for a pill, as well as tools to track and compare symptoms. For example, people could compare their mood to their pain severity, and then graph the relationship between the two.

The study authors suggest that gathering information about symptoms, and having it on hand during a visit to the doctor, can help people with PD be more involved in their own care, understand their health better and have more productive discussions with their health care providers. More research is needed to find out whether people will use such an app over the long term.

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Do you have additional questions about this topic? We invite readers to learn more by accessing PDF's free resource below, or by contacting our National HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or info@pdf.org with any additional questions.

Download Fact Sheet: Understanding Parkinson’s Medications

Reference: Lakshminarayana R, Wand D, Burn D, et al. (2017). Using a Smartphone-Based Self-Management Platform to Support Medication Adherence and Clinical Consultation in Parkinson’s Disease. npj | Parkinson’s Disease (2017)3:2; doi:10.1038/s41531-016-0003-z 

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Source Date: Jan 20 2017