Startup receives FDA approval to use the Apple Watch to track Parkinson’s symptoms

The watch will provide doctors with precise data so they can decide whether and how to fine-tune the patient's treatment.

A San Fransico-based startup has just received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the Apple Watch to monitor symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease, as reported by Reuters.

The startup, Rune Labs, and its chief executive Brian Pepin aims to use the Apple Watch alongside a Medtronic implant to measure brain signals and detect if and when the wearer tumbles.

Currently, doctors working with Parkinson’s patients need to collect their movement data by observing the patient during their clinical visit, which is inefficient because Parkinson’s symptoms can alter greatly over time, according to Pepin. The Watch, however, “will give doctors a continuous stream of observations over long stretches,” Pepin said.

The FDA authorization for Rune Labs to deploy Apple’s smartwatch to monitor patients with Parkinson’s is the first notable application of Apple’s software tools released in 2018 for evaluating movement disorders, and will provide doctors with precise data so they can decide whether and how to fine-tune the patient’s treatment.

When Rune Labs approached Apple about partnering, the Cupertino, California-based company jumped at the chance. “it took about eight minutes for the team lead to get back to me and say, ‘Hey, perfect, let’s explore this,'” Pepin said.

Reuters’ report also suggests that Apple has partnered with several other companies to use the Apple Watch as a health monitoring device, including Johnson & Johnson to research whether the watch can be used to help lower the risk of stroke. 

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Source: Reuters