An App to sniff out MS


Like a pig snouting truffles, can Artificial Intelligence diagnose MS?

I used to think neurologists did this – one has a nose for these things 😉

The app uses a matrix involving a ‘mood questionnaire’ to figure out well being; ‘symbol matching’ to assess cognition; ‘walking’ using a step tracker; ‘u-turn’ assessing ability to turn; ‘balance’ testing sway; ‘mobility’ a daily record of walking; ‘pinching’ for hand dexterity; ‘drawing’ to test additional motor skills and visuo-spatial function.

Essentially, it’s a clinician on your phone.

The authors collected data over an year to allow them to do make this determination (information that can be gathered in a single visit by your neurologist, if you ask me), as repeat participation improves accuracy. And, it doesn’t discount the possibility that the participant may have an entirely different neurological disorder to that of MS. But, I do think it will prove to be useful tool in collecting long-term outcome data outside the clinic setting.

At the back of my mind, I can see many nefarious uses for this app; online companies may collect data for insurance purposes, particularly as there are no clear guidance from most countries on how this type of data is shared with third-parties. It may even be used to monitor activities of daily living for determining social care allowance, for example.

About the author

Neuro Doc Gnanapavan


  • It is indeed a minefield, Neuro Doc, using a black-box technology that we do not really understand and the potential for misuse and breaches of data protection are considerable. Early days and quite a bit more than sensitivity and specificity.

  • I’m sure though there are a lot of aspects that it is unable monitor, such as bowel and bladder issues
    including UTI’s, pain, numbness, spasms, restless legs, swallowing issues…..

    • There are platforms in place that allow for the above to be monitored, but their primary aim is to inform discussions with your nurse/neuro. Unless tests are done to confirm a UTI, arthritis etc they have little use.

  • Interesting. A step towards a Star Trek Tricorder?
    Glad you said one trip to a neurologist could gather the same information!
    Plus the human touch, information, support.
    For prospective patients, self diagnosing is stressful, misguided and may be needlessly depressing.
    For patients already diagnosed and in treatment with a Doctor in an MS Center,
    It might be a good tool to monitor progress.
    The negatives of data safety are constant.
    I thought of Disability determination. Many aspects of life with MS Cannot be measured.

  • Privacy issues aside, this would be helpful self-monitor changes in MS symptoms overtime and any possible relation to temperature, amount of sleep, length of activity, hormonal changes, etc. Similar to the concussion evaluation Ap!?!? I havent found any Daily journals that help me determine optimal length of activity before my endurance is spent or aids me in distinguishing a flare from doing too much.



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