Affiliations: [a] Department of Molecular Neurology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany
| [b] Movement Disorders Clinic, Beelitz-Heilstaetten, Beelitz, Germany
Research Group Digital Health Pathways, Fraunhofer IIS, Erlangen, Germany
Medical Valley Digital Health Application Center, Bamberg, Germany
Correspondence to: Jochen Klucken, Department of Molecular Neurology, University Hospital Erlangen, Schwabachanlage 6, 91054 Erlangen. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: Background:Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an age dependent neurodegenerative disorder with increasing prevalence. Digital technologies like computers and smartphones offer mobile telecommunication, diagnostic and monitoring and may connect the patient continuously with his healthcare team, providing disease related information, and support healthcare. Since the use of these technologies in western civilization is age dependent, possession and usage cannot be regarded as given in PD. In contrast to increasing efforts to implement digital technology into PD patient care, little is known about the use of computers, smartphones, and internet-affinity in PD patients. Objective:We evaluated the use of digital technologies in different age groups of PD patients. Methods:We developed a questionnaire adapted to the annual German microcensus on “use of digital communication technologies”, allowing a comparison to the general population in Germany. Results:190 PD patients completed the questionnaire. About 75% of PD patients access disease related information on the internet. Patients across all age groups used computers and the internet as frequent or more frequently compared to the German population. Use of computers, smartphones, and the internet in PD was age dependent. Advanced PD patients with higher motor impairment used smartphones less often, while mobile phone usage was not reduced. Conclusion:The adoption of a digital lifestyle is present in the PD population, apart from smartphone usage, which is impaired by motor symptoms. Thus, future healthcare technologies are not hampered by the inability of PD patients to use the necessary tools, however, fine motor-skill requirements have to be acknowledged.
Keywords: Smartphones, digital media, Parkinson’s disease, movement disorder, digital healthcare