“Thanks to advancements in technology, a revolution in data-driven personal health monitoring (often referred to as “self-quantification”) has become possible. This revolution is changing the face of health care as we know it,” according to Chris Wood, Editor of Extraordinary Technology with Casey Research.1 In fact, in a recent study of Multiple Sclerosis patients, 89% of the participants believe tracking day-to-day activity is important for their health management.2
Today, there are mobile health apps and wearable devices available to help you track your MS symptoms; monitor your heart rate, exercise and activity levels; keep track of your nutritional intake and sleep schedule; and more. With the array of health monitoring technologies currently on the market (not to mention on the horizon), better self-care may now be, more than ever, in your hands!
Here are some examples of mobile and wearable technologies that may help those living with MS. Combining more than one tool can increase the ability to have accurate information at your fingertips that can also be shared with your doctor.
Cooling vests and “smart textiles”
For help with: Body temperature control and collecting data on vital signs
Cooling vests, which often use ice packs, gel packs or another cooling fluid, can be lightweight and designed to fit comfortably under clothing.3 Since overheating can affect MS symptoms, cooling therapy may offer some relief.
A range of custom apparel can monitor vital signs. One example is a T-shirt with “smart sleeves” that measure the user’s heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and are even capable of measuring skin moisture and electrophysiological signals such as EEG (electroencephalography).1
There are a variety of cooling vests and smart textiles that range widely in effectiveness and price, so compare details and product reviews. Learn more.
For help with: Monitoring body temperature, breathing, hydration, heart rate and stress levels
Small devices that insert in and over the ear (similar to a cordless earbud) or clip onto the wearer’s clothing can record dehydration levels, body temperature, and heart rate, as well as monitor breathing and stress levels. Depending on the device, you can set notifications based on a number of markers. Some devices integrate with mobile apps capable of compiling your data into a report that can be exported and viewed.4,5 For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
Fitbit® combined with the MS self™ App for iPad®, iPhone® and Android™
For help with: Tracking physical activity and sleep patterns, monitoring MS symptoms and offering educational tips
Fitbit is a small device that you wear either like a bracelet or clip to your clothing that records steps, duration and quality of sleep, and how many flights of stairs you climb. (You can also purchase the model that records heart rate and other data.)6,7
The MS self mobile app is a unique and easy-to-use support tool for people living with MS. The app integrates with Fitbit; has a journal feature where you can record your symptoms and emotions and document other aspects of life with MS; and allows you to set up reminders and generate reports. It also offers searchable fact cards with educational tips and helpful information specifically for those with MS. With the MS self reports feature, you can visually present your journal entries by selecting a date range and options to include, such as mood, mobility and energy, then print, share via email or save your report. You can even customize further with weather and Fitbit data. The reports provide useful insights on multiple dimensions of well-being, assist in spotting trends, and may help facilitate a conversation with your doctor.
In a recent study by PatientsLikeMe.com and Biogen, 248 MS patients were given a Fitbit One, a wearable activity-tracking device. The majority of participants (68%) said a wearable device would help them manage and track their MS.2
Using integrated, mobile tools can help you get the information you need to see how MS impacts your life, helping inform your decisions about healthcare. You may have MS, but when you’re caring for yourself from a place of empowerment, MS doesn’t have you.
4 Source: http://www.cosinuss.com/en/
5 Source: https://www.spire.io/
6 Source: https://www.fitbit.com/
7 Source: https://www.fitbit.com/chargehr
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