APR 20, 2015 4:27 PM PDT

Fitness Trackers Could Support MS Treatments: Study

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Researchers from biotech firm Biogen and online medical information forum PatientsLikeMe conducted a study that suggests a potential therapeutic benefit of fitness trackers for patients dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Fitness trackers, from left, Basis Peak, Adidas Fit Smart, Fitbit Charge, Sony SmartBand, and Jawbone Move, are posed for a photo next to an iPhone, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in New York.
A major symptom of multiple sclerosis is a recurring numbness in different parts of the body like the arms or legs, which can impair mobility, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Richard Rudick, Biogen's vice president of value based medicine said in a statement, "MS impairs the ability to walk for many people with MS, yet we only assess walking ability in the limited time a patient is in the doctor's office."

Both companies wanted to see how effective the data emitted by wearable devices, in this case Fitbit's, could be in providing insight into an MS patient's movement in a real-world setting. The goal would be to see if this could supplement a traditional office exam, according to the summary released by PatientsLikeMe.

Researchers gave 248 members of the PatientsLikeMe community Fitbit trackers while 203 members of the group activated the device and agreed to share the data with the scientists.

Over the course of three weeks, contributors logged a total of 15 million steps, which breaks down to 6,820 miles. These positive results meant there was an 87 percent adherence rate.

Beta Boston reports that this, "data monitoring could offer a long-term view of a person's fitness habits, granting them more personalized care," adding that access to multiple case studies like this may provide the medical community with a better understanding of what life is like living with this disease each day.

The team of investigators will present their findings this week at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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