© 2023 Innovation Trail

WATCH: Researchers at URMC launch app to track Parkinson's symptoms

Michelle Faust/WXXI News
Gary Hilburger was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than a decade ago.";



The mPower app measures balance, gait, and changes in manual dexterity and voice through a series of daily tasks and sensors on the iphone.

Doctor Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at URMC, explained, "We know individuals with Parkinson's Disease for example walk slower, have reduced stride length, have a little bit of a reduced posture, and we can assess that with the accelerometers and gyroscopes within the smartphone to determine how well their Parkinson’s disease is doing."

It’s been more than a decade since Gary Hilburger was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He says there are both altruistic and personal reasons to participate in a study using the app. Hilburger wants to help other people living with Parkinson’s through data gleaned by researchers, but it’ll also help his own doctor.

"My treating neurologist [will] be able to track and observe and take note of changes in my symptoms and be able to respond in a more timely fashion," said Hilburger.

According to Doctor Dorsey, the tool is a way to gather objective data that covers much more than what he can observe.

"We see patients for a half an hour every three months. We're not seeing them doing assessments over the course of everyday over 16 to 24 hours a day," said Dorsey.

Researchers on the study hope thousands of volunteers will use the app regularly. Dorsey says it’s only the first step in learning enough about the disease to possible find a way to prevent it’s progression in the future.


Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.
Related Content