New research conducted by Biogen and the website PatientsLikeMe indicates that wearable activity tracking devices could be useful to patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in managing their disease. The data will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting.

A total of 248 PatientsLikeMe members were recruited for this study to assess the feasibility of using a consumer wearable device to monitor activity in patients with MS in a real-world setting. Participants were mailed a Fitbit One activity tracker with instructions for use and authorization of data sharing between the device manufacturer and PatientsLikeMe. Patient demographic information and level of self-reported functional disability were obtained from the PatientsLikeMe member profiles. All participants were able to track their physical activity levels on the PatientsLikeMe website during the three-week study; at the end of the study period, participants were assessed on their experiences and attitudes toward technology and physical activity tracking.

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Over the course of the study, the MS patients took 15 million steps and walked 6,820 miles. Of the 191 participants who completed the post-study survey, 88% stated that the device was easy to use and incorporate into their daily routines. In addition, 83% planned to continue using the device after the conclusion of the study and 68% believed that the device would be helpful to them in managing their MS.

Because consumer devices can measure activity levels continuously in a patient’s home environment, this technology could provide valuable data to clinicians to supplement office visit exams, stated Richard Rudick, MD, vice president, Value Based Medicine, Biogen.

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