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“Emma Watch” for patients with Parkinson’s Disease

by Mia Thomas, PT, DPT

 

 

Artificial intelligence and other advancements in technology have been impacting the medical field more than some might have expected. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced a prototype for a watch that decreases tremors in the wrist and hand for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Their product uses a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence, which creates a series of vibrations, that helps interrupt a potential feedback loop that causes tremors. Unfortunately, the current medical research behind the cause of tremors and stiffness in Parkinson’s is limited; once there is more research that helps medical professionals understand the reasoning behind these common symptoms in Parkinson’s Microsoft believes they can “develop technology and devices that help humans manage their symptoms.”

Currently, the Emma watch has only been used by a 32-year-old graphic designer, Emma Lawton, who gave the watch it’s name. Emma has been relying on technology to perform her everyday tasks as the shakiness in her hands has prevented her from doing any fine motor activities with a pencil, including writing her name; however, with the Emma watch prototype, she was able to write her name with a typical pencil for the first time in years. Microsoft developers are working with a neuroscience research team to perform small human research studies to ensure it is a safe and effective treatment to manage symptoms.
You can watch a video discussing the Emma watch and see more about how Emma’s fine motor skills were altered here.