Measuring the lifespace of people with parkinson's disease using smartphones: Proof of principle

Jacki Liddle*, David Ireland, Simon J. McBride, Sandra G. Brauer, Leanne M. Hall, Hang Ding, Mohan Karunanithi, Paul W. Hodges, Deborah Theodoros, Peter A. Silburn, Helen J. Chenery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Lifespace is a multidimensional construct that describes the geographic area in which a person lives and conducts their activities, and reflects mobility, health, and well-being. Traditionally, it has been measured by asking older people to self-report the length and frequency of trips taken and assistance required. Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors on smartphones have been used to measure Lifespace of older people, but not with people with Parkinson's disease (PD). Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate whether GPS data collected via smartphones could be used to indicate the Lifespace of people with PD. Methods: The dataset was supplied via the Michael J Fox Foundation Data Challenge and included 9 people with PD and 7 approximately matched controls. Participants carried smartphones with GPS sensors over two months. Data analysis compared the PD group and the control group. The impact of symptom severity on Lifespace was also investigated. Results: Visualization methods for comparing Lifespace were developed including scatterplots and heatmaps. Lifespace metrics for comparison included average daily distance, percentage of time spent at home, and number of trips into the community. There were no significant differences between the PD and the control groups on Lifespace metrics. Visual representations of Lifespace were organized based on the self-reported severity of symptoms, suggesting a trend of decreasing Lifespace with increasing PD symptoms. Conclusions: Lifespace measured by GPS-enabled smartphones may be a useful concept to measure the progression of PD and the impact of various therapies and rehabilitation programs. Directions for future use of GPS-based Lifespace are provided.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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