Apple's New ResearchKit Movement Disorder API Can be Used to Monitor Parkinson’s Symptoms

Apple has created a new Movement Disorder API that will be added to ResearchKit, its open source Framework that is designed to let medical researchers gather data.

Using the API, developers will be able to implement all-day monitoring on Apple Watch devices running watchOS 5. The API is designed to identify tremors, shaking and quivering motions, and dyskinesia, fidgeting and swaying motions. These motions are symptoms and side effects of Parkinson’s disease, a nerodegenerative disorder that affects over a million people in the US and can ultimately cause death.

Currently, Parkinson's patients are typically asked to undergo tests at medical facilities to assess their symptoms, but thanks to the Movement Disorder API, physicians will be able to remotely gather data over an extended period of time to gain a better understanding of their patients' symptoms.

Already, an app called mPower, which was developed by Sage Bionetworks and University of Rochester and uses existing ResearchKit functionality, has been used to conduct a study involving more than 10,000 Parkinson's patients, making it "the largest Parkinson's study in history" according to Apple.

Developers who want to use the Movement Disorder API will need code signing entitlement. More information about the API, as well as code for the mPower app, is available in the ResearchKit GitHub repository.

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