Experiential device to record and transmit Parkinson : Klick Labs Debuts first healthcare device to record and transmit Parkinson’s tremors. Digital healthcare innovator reveals how simulators, virtual reality, and other experiential technology can recreate disease symptoms to put physicians and caregivers in patients’ shoes. Klick Labs, a digital healthcare innovation lab, recently introduced the SymPulse Tele-Empathy Device, a groundbreaking Proof of Concept that wirelessly records and transmits Parkinson tremors in real time to help foster clinical empathy and better care for the more than 40 million people living with movement disorders in the United States alone.
Device detects Parkinson and transmit tremors
Unlike other inventions that attempt to replicate tremors via mechanical vibrations, Klick Labs’ SymPulse Tele-Empathy Device records continuous electromyogram data from the patient and wirelessly transmits it via Bluetooth to a custom-engineered electrical muscle stimulation armband for non-patients.
The patent-pending, experiential device induces involuntary muscle activity, which mimics patient tremors in real time, and enables physicians and family members to experience the difficulties of seemingly simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or using a mobile phone.
Importance of clinical empathy
According to Dr. Jodi Halpern, Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, "Skillful use of clinical empathy is essential for all three major aspects of effective medical care: accurate diagnosis, treatment adherence, and patient activation…We need innovative approaches to inculcate empathy in physicians, including exciting new interactive technologies that enable people to experience other people's symptoms," said Halpern, author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice, (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Dr. Helen Riess, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Founder of Empathetics, said, "Improving clinical empathy should be at the forefront of institutional missions and interventions are needed to achieve these critical healthcare goals."
A randomized controlled trial led by Dr. Riess found that, initially, 53% of physicians reported declining levels of patient empathy for several years; whereas only 33% reported increasing levels.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in May 2012, also found that clinical empathy can be taught and can raise patient ratings of their healthcare.
Device transmits Parkinson tremors
As part of the device’s debut, video footage was released of 43-year-old early onset Parkinson’s patient Jim Smerdon wirelessly transmitting his tremors to his wife and identical twin brother Pat. "It’s the first time I’ve ever seen my tremors in someone else," Smerdon said. "I want everyone to be able to feel that…Nurses and neurosurgeons could experience (my tremors)…I think it will be a real game changer for them."
Future of digital healthcare
Fossat said future versions, which use the Internet for remote transmission of symptoms, could be used for telemedicine. "We envision patients being able to transmit their tremors to physicians anywhere in the world to get more accurate diagnoses and better treatment," he explained.
The implications of tele-empathy extend beyond the manipulation of muscle activity. Other types of disease and condition symptoms can be quantified and digitized using wearables with sensors that measure everything from the glucose level of someone’s tears to air flow and blood oxygen saturation levels. As a result, Klick Labs is also exploring symptom transference for diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
With vast expertise creating Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for the healthcare industry, the company also believes VR can be used to create clinical empathy. “We can leverage VR to bypass proprioception and simulate a particular gait of a patient with diabetic neuropathy or multiple sclerosis and virtually put other people in that patient’s shoes,” Fossat added.
According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, of the 10 million people living with the disease around the world, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year, not including thousands of cases that go undetected. In 2005, the Foundation estimated that more than 40 million Americans (nearly one in seven people) were affected by a movement disorder, including tremor, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s syndrome, dystonia, and spasticity.