App could help people with chronic lung disease to monitor their health

A smartphone app could help people with conditions such as asthma and COPD keep track of their health.

Researchers in the USA have developed a smartphone app that could help people with chronic conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to keep track of their health.

The app, GaitTrack, monitors the walking pattern, or gait, of its users. The speed and pattern of a person’s walk involves several systems of the body working together in coordination, so changes in this can be a sign of trouble in one or more systems, and can help doctors understand any problems.

The developers of the app explain that it would constantly run in the background of a person’s phone, collecting data on their walking pattern as they carry it around throughout the day. If changes occur that suggest a person’s symptoms were getting worse, their doctor would be alerted.

A study into the app’s effectiveness on 30 people with chronic lung conditions was recently published in the journal, Telemedicine and e-Health. The participants were asked to perform six-minute walk tests, and the researchers found that the app was not only more accurate than existing medical tools, but that the data collected could predict lung function with 90% accuracy within the 50–64 age group.

The app is now being tested in larger groups of people.

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