“When I was a kid I used to take my grandmother, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, to her neurologist and it was sad to see her frustration due to her physical limitations,” he said.
Mr Alvarado noticed there was a lack of continuity of care between the different doctors treating his grandmother. However, it wasn’t until he started studying at ECU that he realised he had an opportunity to help solve the problem.
That solution is Parkinson iTest, an app which allows Parkinson’s sufferers to use their tablet to perform tests on muscle rigidity and tremors, the results of which can be sent straight to the patients’ doctors.
The tests include tapping and spiral exercises which demand coordination and control over motor movements.
The results are saved and can be reviewed by the user to track their own progress as well as informing doctors.
“Our main goal is to ensure that patients communicate and share their results with their doctors between each appointment,” Mr Alvarado said.
The tests themselves were created by a separate team led by Robert Broadway, an IT engineer who has Parkinson’s disease.
The team works on tests for people with Parkinson’s and came to ECU with the hope of taking the project further.
Mr Alvarado stressed the app also had huge potential for neurologists who would be able to keep track of multiple patients and assist them to detect minor changes, prevent possible complications and adjust a patient’s medications.
“The app offers a solution that can be used anywhere on the world, not just Australia. Any person with a tablet and internet connection will be able to download, test and share their results with their neurologists,” he said.
Given the sensitivity of medical data, test results are kept secure and backed up via cloud technology, which has the added benefit of keeping a backup of patients’ data, should they lose their tablet.
Mr Alvarado said the app would become more useful as Australia’s population ages and the number of people with Parkinson’s increases.
“Parkinson’s sufferers have to wait too long to visit their neurologist and it frustrates them but our solution reduces overheads and brings patients closer to their doctors,” he said.
Parkinson iTest has been named a finalist in the annual WAITTA student awards. For more information visit the WAITTA website.