Friday, January 22, 2016

Mobile devices are a crucial part of people’s lives, and many now wear their smartphones and utilize wearable tech such as smartwatches and FitBit activity trackers on a daily basis. Such devices are also revolutionizing healthcare, playing an increasingly prominent role in the battle against autism. Most parents who have children with autism own mobile devices, and children afflicted with ASD frequently enjoy using the devices.

Healthcare Applications

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, and subsequent devices that cropped up in its wake, there have been innumerable applications designed for them, including many revolving around health care. Apple’s new health application, ResearchKit, is one mainstream example, and researchers at Duke University are working with ResearchKit developers on a project called Autism and Beyond. The project studies facial abnormalities linked to ASD via the outward-facing component of smartphone cameras. The idea is to detect signs of related developmental issues in young children.

Wearable Wrist Sensors and ASD

Wearable wrist sensors that track children’s sweat response to movement is another way mobile technology is aiding ASD research. Because the sensors are worn while performing daily activities, they lend themselves greatly to research. The idea behind the sensors is to detect changes that lead to tantrums in ASD-affected children and adults. Both parents and doctors could easily be alerted in advance of tantrums if the sensor is connected to a mobile technology option.

Doctors note that the sensors could offer a way to further understand what’s happening with an ASD patient, including the connection between physiological measurements and emotions, mood, and health conditions. This is vital considering how challenging it is for most ASD patients to express their emotions.

Smartphones and ASD

Smartphone applications that track daily behavior and activities are also on the horizon for ASD research. These applications are designed specifically for children with ASD, as well as their caregivers. The idea is to provide doctors and other healthcare providers with a comprehensive picture of how and why behaviors change throughout the course of a day, and how they change according to environment and other stimuli.

Is Wearable Tech the New Norm for ASD Patients?

Should current trends continue to evolve, it’s very likely that wearable tech will become the new normal for those with ASD. As wearable technology becomes more commonplace among ASD patients, parents and teachers will increasingly rely on data from these devices to adjust how they interact with ASD-affected children and adults.

New York-Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain is one of the health care organizations researching mobile technology as a viable tool for the autism community, as its team of neuroscientists and doctors regard wearable tech as a wonderful avenue for learning more about how to study and treat autism.

One thing’s for sure: medical mobile technology provides a fantastic vehicle for helping people take charge of their health, reminding them of doctor’s appointments and more. Using wearable tech to study the behaviors and emotional states of those with autism is simply another step in using mobile technology to help people live happier, healthier lives.