A mobile exercise app for users with Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most widespread neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It is an age-related disease and mostly affects people in the later years of life. The symptoms result in a loss of fine motor skills. The progressive nature of PD and its increasing prevalence have resulted in a substantial economic burden to society, health care providers, individual patients and their family. Research have shown that physical exercise in patients with PD is an effective method to control PD-related symptoms, reduce or limit the progress of the disease, and improve physical and psychological health. However, due to PD related conditions such as dementia, apathy, excessive daytime sleepiness, and sleeping problems exercise adherence is a challenging task. Since adherence to an exercise program often involves a behavioral change, the addition of support for this process might provide a valuable contribution to adherence. Adherence to exercise programs is fundamental for achieving positive outcomes. Barriers for continuing regular exercise is decline in health, time constraints, and lack of motivation. The usage of smartphones and tablets is increasing among elderly. Various mobile apps have been developed for older adults, but many of those are not suitable for people with PD, as they do not consider their special conditions. To support physical exercise among people with PD, a touchscreen prototype that reminds and motivates people with PD to exercise was designed, following guidelines and recommendations for mobile and touchscreen apps for people with PD and taking their special conditions into consideration. Three iterations of prototypes were developed and evaluated with help from users with PD and health care personnel. A heuristic evaluation based on universal design principles was conducted, and the results were summarized. Further research is needed to conclude if a mobile exercise app can contribute to exercise adherence for people with PD but based on the response from users involved in this study, it seems possible.