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Parkinson’s disease patient builds app to better match his meds with his symptoms

Shared by Ana Duarte on 2019-07-04 10:05

About the solution

Ray Finucane, born in the USA, in 1944, is a retired mechanical engineer who struggles with Parkinson’s disease. He built an app, in 2015, to help him better match his medication with the onset of symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease consists of a condition when cells in the midbrain deteriorate and die. These cells produce dopamine, which is imperative for regular muscle movement. To make these dopamine levels normal, the patient takes a drug call levodopa (which is the standard treatment for this condition for more than 50 years).

However, there’s no way to regulate the concentration of dopamine in the patient’s body. So it’s difficult to adjust the perfect dose of levodopa to a specific person and their needs. Also, Parkinson’s disease is a fluctuating condition (symptoms come and go), which makes it harder to predict how patients will respond to the meds.

So Ray faced this as an engineering problem and developed PDWatch, a mobile app (iOS) that would help him calculate and monitor the levodopa dose for his needs.

“What I have done is to come up with a way to predict the cumulative effect of a specified prescription, and a scheme to derive a pill schedule to meet the desired endpoint goal. It involves something akin to unwinding a blockchain if that makes sense to you”, he explained.

Ray had the help of a German developer, Heiko Mueller, and together they created an app that keeps track of the patient’s medication and, based on this, helps the user predict the effectiveness of his drug treatment.

The retired engineer keeps an hourly record of his symptoms on the app, which also serves as a personalised pill tracker. He enters in each and every blue-and-white gelcap of Rytary, the long-acting levodopa/carbidopa he takes, as well as the medication’s dose size and timing. The app can also track the heart rate and step-data data by syncing with the Apple Watch.

PDWatch combines the data with several custom-built algorithms and then shows charts with the estimated levodopa concentration in the brain over time. This information allows the user to get a rough idea about his condition (when he will be able to walk, when he will have to be in bed, etc.).

PDWatch has not been released publicly, as it’s still a prototype. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA but it has been tested and reviewed, informally, by medical professionals.

More info: https://bit.ly/309icdX

Adapted from: https://bit.ly/328aqDa

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Ray Finucane, born in the USA, in 1944, is a retired mechanical engineer who struggles with Parkinson’s disease. He built an app, in 2015, to help him better match his medication with the onset of symptoms.

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