IBM fingernail sensor – understanding Parkinson’s with AI

IBM fingernail sensor - understanding Parkinson’s with AI
© iStock/zhuyufang

The IBM fingernail sensor prototype has the aim of helping clinicians to continuously track, monitor and more accurately diagnose Parkinson’s disease with AI.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research has provided a grant to global tech company, IBM, to try better understanding Parkinson’s disease and the route it can take in patients. The IBM fingernail sensor uses AI to help clinicians manage Parkinson’s disease.

The debilitating world of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects as many as one in a 100 people over the age of 60. It is estimated that more than five million individuals have the disorder worldwide, and with today’s ageing population, the number is growing.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has provided a grant to IBM to try to better understand Parkinson’s disease and the route it can take in patients, with the essential goal of paving the way for more effective treatments.

Through this partnership, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is making available its data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), an observational study that has collected a vast amount of anonymous longitudinal data across cohorts of PD patients.

The tiny IBM fingernail sensor using AI

A few weeks ago, IBM announced a new fingernail sensor prototype, which could one day enable clinicians to continuously track, monitor and more accurately diagnose movement and neurodegenerative disorders with the help of data and AI.

Additionally, throughout the past year, the company has published research which uses AI and machine learning to better detect and comprehend changes in patient’s speech, which can indicate markers of Parkinson’s disease progression.

Though the potential of applying AI and machine learning techniques to learn from this data is vast, especially with the development of the fingernail sensor, there are still many challenges.

Nevertheless, drawing on previous work in disease progression IBM hopes that their work will ladder up to the hope and promise of the possibility that one day they may accurately be able to predict the onset and progression of PD.

IBM collaboration with The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The aim of this collaboration is to provide a comprehensive view of the disease through longitudinal, clinical, behavioural and imaging assessments observed from patients in clinical settings, as well as genomic and biological samples such as genetic and epigenome data.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation played a key role in collecting and making this data available in a responsible way, and the broad nature of this information provides an unprecedented opportunity to gain insights into Parkinson’s disease and its progression.

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