If you or someone you know has Parkinson's disease, you're likely aware there is no cure. However, there could be treatments in the future thanks to technology that is capturing data in real-time.
Aura Oslapas created the app called StrivePD. As someone living with Parkinson's, she wanted to develop an easier way to track symptoms associated with the disease. That includes moments when she feels off as she waits for her medications to kick in.
"I feel rigid. I feel slow, My leg will start to shake," Oslapas said. "And you just feel like somebody sort of, like, put a hood over you."
Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease that affects your movement through dopamine depletion. The Parkinson's Foundation said it's the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease.
"There's a common saying that if you've met with one person with Parkinson's, you've met one person with Parkinson's," Oslapas said. "Because the symptoms vary so much."
Medical experts say people living with Parkinson's can experience symptoms such as tremors, sleep difficulties, digestion issues, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and more. Oslapas says managing Parkinson's symptoms and medications is a full-time job.
"I found myself suddenly making spreadsheets to track my medication, to try to figure out if there were patterns of what was going on," Oslapas said.
She created the free app StrivePD because she wanted to find new ways to improve her quality of life and the lives of others. It uses a smartwatch to log symptoms, side effects, medications and well-being. Without an Apple Watch, a person can monitor symptoms and set medication reminders, but the big benefit of pairing it with an Apple Watch is that it can easily share all the data with a doctor.
"You see your doctor maybe two to four times a year for 15 to 30 minutes, and it's challenging for patients to go into a doctor's appointment and be able to quickly communicate what's going on," Oslapas said.
Amanda Hare understands that frustration as a former nurse practitioner who cared for hundreds of Parkinson's patients.
"And when we're talking about one thing, and something else is happening, I could be giving them the wrong treatment and actually worsen their symptoms," Hare said. "So with using StrivePD and having that data to pull up, clinicians can really get to understand what's going on."
Hare now works as a senior clinician specialist with Rune Labs. Rune Labs is a precision medicine company that uses StrivePD to capture patient data and help inform drug development companies on creating suitable therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's. Brian Pepin is the founder and CEO.
"We're taking all of this data that's generated from people every day as part of clinical care, brain imaging, genetic testing, clinical scoring," Pepin said. "Now all of this rich data that's coming off the Apple Watch, and we're bringing that together in a way that's actually really helpful for pharma companies to understand how their drugs are working differently in different patients."
Until a treatment is found, Oslapas says she hopes people living with Parkinson's today will strive to enjoy their life.
"The worst cases are people who just kind of let the disease pour over them," Oslapas said. "And I really want everyone just to keep trying."