How iPads Are Helping Doctors Measure The Impact Of MS

Recent findings from The Cleveland Clinic show new and interesting research involving iPads, specific software and the ability to assess MS capabilities.

According to a paper published in The Journal of Visualized Experiments, a research team from The Cleveland Clinic attached an iPad to the back of 51 MS patients and 49 “healthy controls” in order to record precise data as the patients were tested on various abilities. You can view a video summary here: 1

Requirements to be a candidate for testing included:

  • Average disease in patients from first MS symptom: 12.1 years
  • Average EDSS: 3.9
  • Current use of disease-modifier: 74.5%
  • Progressive forms of MS: 25.5%
  • Employed full-time: 43%

A specially built attachment is placed on the top of the iPad screen to be used, for example, to test dexterity by asking patients to fit round metal pegs into holes as instructed by a therapist. The iPad tracks the timing of the patient’s movements.

Eyes tests for low contrast vision can also be analyzed in a similar fashion to the standard eye chart, but instead use the advanced technology of an iPad.

Simple cognitive processing speed tests are used to show how the brain is working.

The JoVE reports favorable results in correlation between traditional reports and MSPT reports in distinguishing between mild and severe MS, and testing patients on walking and hand function.

“The Multiple Sclerosis Performance Test (MSPT) is an innovative and improved way to measure disability in people with Multiple Sclerosis. Our validation studies show that MSPT performs favorably to traditional technician-based testing. We believe that MSPT has the potential to have a major impact in patient care and research in Multiple Sclerosis.” ~Dr. Richard A. Rudick, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Those of us living with the disease, particularly those with PPMS, know how difficult it is to accurately assess our disease and its progression over time. The coauthors note how challenging it is to precisely measure neurological and neuropsychological impairment and disability for many reasons. Despite this challenge, they report that MSPT represents a new approach to using a computer-based platform to accurately measure MS severity.

“The MSPT can help us move into the future in measuring the impact of Multiple Sclerosis. First it can be directly linked to a research or a clinical database. Second because the test is computer based we can conduct various advanced types of analyses on the data. Third we have the possibility of adapting this technology for in-home use, making it possible for patients to come to the clinic less often. And lastly, this technology is potentially transformational. It’s an entirely new way to measure the clinical impact of Multiple Sclerosis.” ~Dr. Richard A. Rudick, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

The new computer technology will allow data to be shared with research or clinical repositories. It will also allow the use of data for various direct manipulations and analyses, without the need for paper reports, reducing the possibility of human error and lowering the cost of transcribing data manually.

What will all of this do? Improve efficiency and data quality.

The test can be disseminated to clinicians in practice settings in big cities and rural areas. It can be adapted for use in clinics and at home, providing a cost-effective way to collect MS data. The data can be added to an MS registry that has proven helpful in providing information that is later used for research.

The coauthors conclude that as computers continue to improve the testing of neuroperformance for MS and other chronic neurological and neuropsychological disorders, progress in clinical care and research will continue to accelerate.

This is good news for people living with MS.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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