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Front Neurol. 2019 May 28;10:358. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00358. eCollection 2019.

Smartphone Level Test Measures Disability in Several Neurological Domains for Patients With Multiple Sclerosis.

Author information

1
Neuroimmunological Diseases Section, Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, United States.
2
Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States.

Abstract

Our long-term goal is to employ smartphone-embedded sensors to measure various neurological functions in a patient-autonomous manner. The interim goal is to develop simple smartphone tests (apps) and evaluate the clinical utility of these tests by selecting optimal outcomes that correlate well with clinician-measured disability in different neurological domains. In this paper, we used prospectively-acquired data from 112 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and 15 healthy volunteers (HV) to assess the performance and optimize outcomes of a Level Test. The goal of the test is to tilt the smartphone so that a free-rolling ball travels to and remains in the center of the screen. An accelerometer detects tilting and records the coordinates of the ball at set time intervals. From this data, we derived five features: path length traveled, time spent in the center of the screen, average distance from the center, average speed while in the center, and number of direction changes underwent by the ball. Time in center proved to be the most sensitive feature to differentiate MS patients from HV and had the strongest correlations with clinician-derived scales. Its superiority was validated in an independent validation cohort of 29 MS patients. A linear combination of different Level features failed to outperform time in center in an independent validation cohort. Limited longitudinal data demonstrated that the Level features were relatively stable intra-individually within 4 months, without definitive evidence of learning. In contrast to previously developed smartphone tests that predominantly measure motoric functions, Level features correlated strongly with reaction time and moderately with cerebellar functions and proprioception, validating its complementary clinical value in the MS app suite. The Level Test measures neurological disability in several domains in two independent cross-sectional cohorts (original and validation). An ongoing longitudinal cohort further investigates whether patient-autonomous collection of granular functional data allows measurement of patient-specific trajectories of disability progression to better guide treatment decisions.

KEYWORDS:

accelerometer; mobile device; multiple sclerosis; sensors; smartphone

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