Accurate and objective determination of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome disease severity with a wearable sensor, by Turner Palombo, Andrea Campos, Suzanne D Vernon, Shad Roundy in J Transl Med. 2020 Nov 10;18(1):423 [doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02583-7]
Approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). This disease negatively impacts patients’ ability to function, often resulting in difficulty maintaining employment, sustaining financial independence, engaging socially with others, and in particularly severe cases, consistently and adequately performing activities of daily living. The focus of this research was to develop a sensor-based method to measure upright activity defined as time with feet on the floor and referred to as UpTime, as an indicator of ME/CFS disease severity.
A commercially available inertial measurement unit (IMU), the Shimmer, was selected for this research. A Kalman filter was used to convert IMU data collected by the Shimmer to angle estimates. Angle estimate accuracy was confirmed by comparison to a motion capture system. Leg angle estimates were then converted to personalized daily UpTime scores using a critical angle of 39º from vertical to differentiate between upright (feet on the floor) and not upright. A 6-day, case-control study with 15 subjects (five healthy controls, five moderate-level ME/CFS, and five severe-level ME/CFS) was conducted to determine the utility of UpTime for assessing disease severity.
UpTime was found to be a significant measure of ME/CFS disease severity. Severely ill ME/CFS patients spend less than 20% of each day with feet on the floor. Moderately ill ME/CFS patients spend between 20-30% of each day with feet on the floor. Healthy controls have greater than 30% UpTime. IMU-measured UpTime was more precise than self-reported hours of upright activity which were over-estimated by patients.
UpTime is an accurate and objective measure of upright activity, a measure that can be used to assess disease severity in ME/CFS patients. Due to its ability to accurately monitor upright activity, UpTime can also be used as a reliable endpoint for evaluating ME/CFS treatment efficacy. Future studies with larger samples and extended data collection periods are required to fully confirm the use of UpTime as a measure of disease severity in ME/CFS.
With the added perspective of large-scale studies, this sensor-based platform could provide a recovery path for individuals struggling with ME/CFS.
Bateman Horne Center: Turning a Self-Report Questionnaire into a Wearable Device, by Suzanne D Vernon
If the proposed measure successfully detects changes in the amount of time in an upright posture, it will then be submitted to the FDA’s biomarker qualification program to qualify it for use in ME/CFS clinical trials. The existence of an FDA qualified biomarker and clinical outcome measure will be an important inducement to researchers and pharmaceutical companies to develop effective treatments.