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Smartphones Show Promise for Assessing Function in RA

Smartphones Show Promise for Assessing Function in RA

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 12:00

Using iPhone sensors to collect and quantify objective clinical information about functional ability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis appears possible, according to a feasibility study published in the journal Digital Biomarkers.

Accurate data on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, which can fluctuate throughout the day in individual patients, is necessary to provide a complete view of disease activity in clinical trials, explained researchers from GlaxoSmithKline, Tessella, and Medidate Solutions. However, physician evaluation of joint swelling and joint pain comes with a high degree of subjectivity.

“Hence, it is imperative to develop objective tools to measure rheumatoid arthritis disease progression that can be used at home with a frequency that captures the real-time disease variation,” researchers wrote, “thereby gathering valuable insights into the effectiveness of new medicines as well as aspects of patients’ daily lives which remain overlooked.”
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The study collected participant data entirely through an iPhone app during two types of physical function activities performed remotely and without any medical supervision: a wrist joint motion test and a walking test. Gyroscope and accelerometer time-series data were captured during the tasks and processed using machine-learning techniques and programmed algorithms.

Analysis of 289 high-quality wrist joint motion samples and 651 high-quality walking samples highlighted links between objective measurements and participant-reported information on pain, discomfort, and mobility, according to the study. In short, the collected data appeared to be clinically meaningful.

“This feasibility study for fully remote real-world data collection resulted in encouraging trends suggesting that iPhone sensor data can provide meaningful information on functional ability in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, including sensitivity to disease severity,” researchers wrote. “Such information may contribute to a better understanding of patients’ overall quality of life.”

Jolynn Tumolo


Hamy V, Garcia-Gancedo L, Pollard A, et al. Developing smartphone-based objective assessments of physical function in rheumatoid arthritis patients: the PARADE study. Digital Biomarkers. 2020;4(1):26‐43. doi:10.1159/000506860

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