Wearable inertial sensors can be used to measure movements in everyday life. Advanced algorithms translate these movements into metrics that can be interpreted by clinicians, patients and consumers. We believe that these wearables are the future for movement assessment and can empower patients towards taking control of their own health. They are relatively cheap, small, can be worn over longer periods of time, are easy to handle, and collect data objectively and unobtrusively. Especially in progressive movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, it is important to monitor the course of the disease and the effects of therapy.

We were interested in whether wearing wearables over a longer time period would affect Health-Related Quality of Life in people with Parkinson’s disease. A 12-week study over three centres in Europe (Tromsø, Lisbon and Tübingen) included 22 people with Parkinson disease. Half of these people received a sensor set with three wearables for the day and one wearable during the night; the other half did not receive a sensor set. During the first four weeks the sensor group did not receive feedback on their movement behaviour. In the following eight weeks, the sensor group received feedback on their movement behaviour. Health-Related Quality of Life was assessed after four, twelve and fourteen weeks (follow-up). We assessed: i) overall Health-Related Quality of Life, ii) Health-Related Quality of Life in the mobility domain, and iii) Health-Related Quality of Life in the activities of daily living domain. After the first four weeks, no significant changes in Health-Related Quality of Life between groups could be identified. After twelve weeks, a tendency towards an improved Health-Related Quality of Life in the mobility domain was seen in the sensor group compared to the non-sensor group. After fourteen weeks, a significantly improved Health-Related Quality of Life in the mobility domain was detected in the sensor group.

These findings indicate a high acceptance of wearable sensor systems by people with Parkinson’s disease, even over longer periods of time. Under certain circumstances (e.g., when providing useful feedback about their movement behaviour) wearables may even have a positive effect on (aspects of) Health-Related Quality of Life. This may be best explained by a positive effect of increased self-knowledge. Self-knowledge can enable patients to actively take part in the decision-making process during treatment and increase self-empowerment, eventually leading to better teamwork between physician and patient, better health outcomes, and increased patient satisfaction.


van Uem JMT, Maier KS, Hucker S, Scheck O, Hobert MA, Santos AT, Fagerbakke Ø, Larsen F, Ferreira JJ, Maetzler W. Twelve-Week Sensor Assessment in Parkinson’s Disease: Impact on Quality of Life. Mov Disord. 2016; May 31. doi:10.1002/mds.26676.

About the Author

Janet van Uem

Janet van Uem

Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience, International Max Planck Research School

Janet van Uem is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience, International Max Planck Research School, at the University of Tübingen and Hertie Institute for clinical neuroscience in Tübingen, Germany.

Janet’s research aims to better understand Health-Related Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease. There is a need from both sides i) clinicians and researchers, and ii) Parkinson’s disease patients to measure Parkinson’s disease features objectively. In her thesis she explores the relationship between objective measurement of Parkinson’s disease features and Health-Related-Quality of Life, and how objective measurement can possibly improve Health-Related-Quality of Life. Janet is currently in the final phase of her PhD programme.


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