Motion-capture cameras and new technologies are being harnessed to track the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis patients may one day have the option of having an intelligent camera system track the disease’s progress, using super-precise measurements of physical symptoms to enable better, faster and cheaper treatments.
Microsoft Corp.’s researchers teamed up with pharma giant Novartis AG to develop a system called AssessMS, which uses the company’s Kinect motion camera and machine learning software to track movements, analyzing things like gait and ability to touch one’s nose with a finger.
Multiple sclerosis, which affects 2.3 million people worldwide, is an incurable and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. For some it is fatal within a few years, while many others suffer physical deterioration over several decades. Most patients have what is called relapsing-remitting MS, where symptoms flare up and then improve, making it critical for doctors to track the severity of the disease over a period of time.
“Neurologists are very good at understanding what patients need and finding the right treatments for them, but what they are not very good at is being consistent in the way they quantify symptoms,” said Cecily Morrison, a Microsoft researcher at the Human Experience & Design research group in Cambridge, U.K. “Patients often see different doctors each time they are assessed and the question is—did I change or was there a change in the way the doctor scores it?”