Wearables and domotics for custom-made therapies

The results of a new sensor device to detect the movements of patients with Parkinson disease revived the interest in custom-made devices and for domotics applied to health.

The concerned device can be worn on the wrist or ankle and is connected to an algorithm: the collected data on daily activities (walking, dressing, moving) are analysed in the light of drug administration to assess the actual patient’s response to therapies.

This new approach to therapy customization is the last frontier in the field of devices for the creation of tools monitoring patients without excessive interference in their lives, able to collect information to be transmitted to health professionals.

Wearable medical devices, for instance, the so called ‘wearables’, are more and more increasing: smartwatches calculating the consumed calories, augmented reality glasses, devices measuring blood sugar and injecting insulin, epilepsy alert bracelets.

It is a steady growing market, thanks to the easy usability of these devices by the patients, but also by healthcare facilities, whose job of care and prevention becomes enourmously simplified.

Wearable devices speed up information exchange between doctors and patients and work as a prevention tool, sensitising people to the monitoring of some parameters (calories, oxygen, heartbeat) before they become a health problem. The devices to monitor physical exercise have alone reached a market value of almost 4 million dollars, and their diffusion is expected to increase three times within 2020.

Unfortunately, cuts to health costs, especially in Italy, represent a huge obstacle to the adoption of these tools by healthcare facilities. The poor technology culture of doctors and patients also hinders their wider use.

On the other hand, domotics is also addressing the identification of the weak sides of healthcare assistance with the aim of developing teletherapy and teleassistance tools, with special attention to the increasing elder population.

Though not specifically created for people with motor disorders, domotics can help elderly, disabled people and patients with neurologic or motor diseases to maintain their own autonomy, improving the quality of their lives. Lifting a shutter, opening a door, getting up from an armchair, are all activities that can become a problem for people with motor problems, that domotics is capable to solve.

Benefits are under everyone’s eyes: minor costs for home assistance, drugs and hospitalisations. The future of wearables and domotics applied to health will be then all played in the availability of economic resources.

Written by: Maria Pia Felici