Physicians to Monitor Parkinson’s Patients Online
An accelerometer-based patient tracking system that facilitates the flow of data between physicians and patients has been developed by a team of researchers led by Professor Cem Ersoy of the Computer Engineering Department at Boğaziçi University. His team consists of research assistant and doctoral candidate Can Tunca; graduate student, Nezihe Pehlivan; and undergraduate student, Sertaç Önal.
With the new system developed by the Computer Networks Research Laboratory, doctors will be able to keep their patients under continuous observation, collecting data on their health. Describing the system, Professor Ersoy said, “Let’s say we want to measure acceleration values transmitted from the patient arriving 100 times per second on x-y-z axes, without missing any information. With this system, we can either process the data online, or store it to be processed later. For example, if a doctor knows that his patient is to take his or her medication at 12:00, he can track the effects of the medication in the following hours. We are working to make this possible at times when the doctor is not with the patient.”
The system enables the online transmission of patient data to the doctor via a wrist sensor worn at all times by the patient, thereby supporting doctor-patient communication throughout the treatment process. The wrist sensors have the capacity to communicate any diversions from the normal course of the disease via the Internet. Ersoy said, “A doctor who has three thousand patients cannot possibly care for them all at his office. He prescribes their medication and sends them home. With this project, we are trying to help the physician to closely monitor more patients than he could by himself.”
The System Could Become Widespread Within Five Years
Ersoy predicted, “Within five years, when these systems are presented with an open interface and affordable prices, they will have a much broader area of application.” He stated that they have accumulated data on 17 patients so far. This number will increase in the following semester, depending on the number of sensors. According to Ersoy, in the near future it will be possible to monitor Parkinson’s disease patients in their homes.
Ersoy has been interested in accelerometers and wearable sensors for sixteen years. During the last six years he has been conducting research on topics related to human health. Work began last year on the patient tracking system
Cooperation with Gülüstü Kaptanoğlu, M.D.
Ersoy stated that he has been working in collaboration with Dr. Gülüstü Kaptanoğlu on this project. Dr. Kaptanoğlu, who teaches part-time at Boğaziçi, specializes in Cognitive Neurology and Dementia, and is the president of the 65+ Elderly Rights Association. Ersoy emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary work and explained that he and his team were supported by Dr. Kaptanoğlu in determining the needs of the system related to Parkinson’s disease.
Improvements in the Daily Life of Patients Reflect on the Costs
Ersoy said the new system will have important benefits in terms of the costs involved in diseases such as Parkinson’s, which require long-term treatment. “Every disease causes losses in the labor force; diseases such as Parkinson’s also severely limit the individual’s ability to move. Currently there is no cure for this disease. But some of its symptoms can be alleviated. When you enable these patients to live normal lives, you postpone the negative effects of the disease. That will certainly improve the patient’s quality of life. At the same time, it also can minimize the need for hired caregivers, or even enable the individual to continue working, alleviating the burden on the patient’s budget.”
About Professor Cem Ersoy
Professor Cem Ersoy received his BS and MS degrees from the Boğaziçi University Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department in 1984 and 1986, respectively. From 1984 to 1986, he worked as an R&D engineer at NETAŞ A.Ş. He received his Ph.D. in 1992 from the Electrical Engineering Department at the Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York. He has been teaching at Boğaziçi University since then. His areas of research include computer network design, wireless networks, and mobile and pervasive healthcare applications. He has acted as an advisor for the theses of 63 students, led over 30 funded research projects, and has over 200 peer reviewed publications. Currently he is continuing research with 16 graduate students on topics such as ambient intelligence, pervasive healthcare and smart phone applications, green networking technologies, smart homes, smart cities, smart transportation and energy infrastructure. Prof. Ersoy is the chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Communications Society Turkish Chapter, and a member of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF)