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Neurotechnologies offer new hope for patients with Parkinson’s disease

April 11 is the World Parkinson's Day

Parkinson’s disease affects around 0.2% of the worldwide population, and up to 1% of those aged 60 years and above. Precise data from the canton of Geneva indicates a prevalence of Parkinson’s disease of 1.7/1000, which translates into 15,000 patients across Switzerland.

As for all other neurodegenerative diseases, we are still missing treatments which could cure or reverse this condition, or at least stop its progression once diagnosed. Yet, several drugs, primarily compensating for the insufficient production of dopamine by the brain, are very helpful in reducing the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In a minority of patients, a surgical treatment, which consists in implanting electrodes to electrically stimulate specific deep brain nuclei, also proves useful. Despite these symptomatic treatments, a majority of patients suffer from the impact of the disease on many aspects of their daily life.

The rapid development of innovative health-directed technologies offers new ways of alleviating a significant part of the medical and socio-professional burden carried by those living with Parkinson’s disease. These so-called neurotechnologies can help improve diagnosis, monitor the disease, detect comorbidities early, optimise and personalise currently available treatments and also bring hope of novel therapies.

Parkinson’s disease is particularly prone to benefiting from such progress due to some specific characteristics. Firstly, the disease starts many years before becoming symptomatic, while the initial clinical features stay undiagnosed for seven years on average. These subtle changes in motor activity are likely to be detected by smart watches, keyboards or even smartphones. Secondly, the evolution of the disease is marked by aggravations arising both over the course of a single day and on a longer-term basis whose timely and precise identification can lead to very effective adaptation of the therapy, justifying chronic monitoring on different timescale.

The CHUV-NeuroTech team located at Biopôle, together with its medical partners at CHUV, engineer collaborators at EPFL and close interaction with the Biopôle Digital Health Pulse programme, offer an ideal ecosystem for leveraging such technological innovations in the fields of Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. Do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to test your solution with us.


Authors: Prof. Philippe Ryvlin, Chair of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DNC) at CHUV, Director of NeuroTech, and Dr Julien Bally, Head of the Parkinson’s and movement disorder unit, Neurology Service, DNC, CHUV