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Smartphone tapping can help detect progressive MS

Presented By
Dr Juan Luis Chico-Garcia, Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Spain

Just by typing on their mobile phone, MS patients can allow progression of their disease to be passively monitored and it allows for good adherence. Tapping speed may be a useful tool for MS monitoring and can help to detect the phenotypes with progressive disease patterns

Continuously acquired smartphone keyboard interactions have shown their potential for the monitoring of various neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia [1]. Dr Juan Luis Chico-Garcia (Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Spain) and colleagues prospectively studied the potential of this approach in MS, in their comprehensive MS centre [2].

The researchers developed their own software that MS patients in their institution could download on their mobile phone. They set out to study the accuracy and reliability of this “in house” application and to correlate tapping speed with clinical MS scales. Median values in the first week of assessment were compared through Spearman’s Rho and linear regression including Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, 9-Hole Peg Test (9HPT), Timed 25-Foot Walk (T25FWT), and Processing Speed Test (PST) CogEval® raw scores (RS) and Z score.

Of the 50 participants, 31 (62%) were women, median age was 45 years and they had an EDSS score of 2.0 (IQR 1.5–4.5), 80% had relapsing-remitting MS, 12% had secondary-progressive MS, 8% had primary-progressive MS, and 18% used no DMT.

Tapping speed was found to have a strong negative correlation with EDSS score (r=-0.54; P=0.0003), 9HPT (r=-0.54; P=0.002), and T25FWT (r=-0.65; P=0.0007). Tapping speed positively correlated with baseline PST RS (r=0.57; P<0.00001) and PST Z score (r=0.43; P=0.0003) but was negatively correlated with time since MS first symptoms (r=-0.39; P=0.003). Tapping speed was lower in participants diagnosed with secondary progressive MS than with relapsing-remitting MS (P=0.008), with an area under the curve of 0.84. Limitations of the study were low sample size, underrepresentation of progressive phenotypes, and the influence of age.

Tapping speed may thus be a useful tool for MS monitoring and may help to detect the progressive phenotypes of the disease.

  1. Arroyo-Gallego T, et al. J Med Internet Res. 2018 Mar 26;20(3):e89.
  2. Chico Garcia JL, et al. Tapping speed in smartphone is useful for detection of progressive multiple sclerosis. Abstract O074, ECTRIMS 2022, 26–28 October, the Netherlands.

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