Home
National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre

Myositis: smart phone technology harnessed to detect the onset of leg muscle damage

Dr Alex Oldroyd

Author: Dr Alex Oldroyd

Clinical Research Fellow, NIHR Manchester BRC MSK Theme

Twitter: @Dr_Alex_Oldroyd

View External profile

As legendary guitarist, Peter Frampton prepares for his farewell tour later this year due to a form of Myositis, Manchester BRC MSK researcher, Dr Alex Oldroyd, blogs about a new clinical trial designed to detect the early warning signs of relapse in this debilitating disease.

Anglo-American Peter Frampton has been diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis, one of the different types of this chronic condition.  His summer tour is a response to his concern that he may not be able to play his guitar in the future.

Impact of Myositis

In Myositis, which is an autoimmune muscle inflammation disease, a wide range of muscles can be involved, affecting grip, lifting capability and walking. Walking is particularly affected as Myositis predominantly attacks the leg muscles in a large proportion of people.

Myositis occurs in peaks and troughs throughout a person’s lifetime and disability due to walking impairment can occur if ‘flares’ are not detected at an early stage.

Current ‘flares’ detection

The current, standard methods of relapse detection (comprehensive examination, blood tests, MRI scans) are limited and can take a long time. They can only identify a flare once it is established and causing irreversible muscle damage.

As a clinician it is disheartening that any treatment we instigate at this stage, although effective at stopping the relapse, can’t fully recover any muscle damage that may have occurred.

Using technology to tackle Myositis

So I have great hopes that our clinical trial – the Myositis Physical Activity Device (MyoPAD) study – will offer a reliable but much quicker way to detect these flares.

The trial involves exciting and innovative methodology.  During the research, participants will answer questions, via a specially developed smart phone app, about how active they feel their Myositis is.  At the same time these patients will also have a ‘sensor patch’ on one of their legs which will continuously measure walking patterns and detect the subtle changes associated with a relapse.

Our team – the Manchester Myositis Research Group (MMRG) at The University of Manchester – will do real time analysis on the data coming through from the digital patient questionnaires and sensor patches.

The 90 day-long MyoPAD trial is now open for recruitment and anyone interested in getting involved should contact me at alexander.oldroyd@manchester.ac.uk.  We are looking for 40-50 patient volunteers.

This study, which is the first of its kind in Myositis, has the potential to transform the detection of relapses, enabling patients to get earlier clinical interventions and, hopefully, retaining their independence for longer.

On a final note, good luck to Peter Frampton on his North American tour – it’s a pity he’s not coming to the UK!

Collaborators

The trial is being funded by the NIHR Manchester BRC, Versus Arthritis and FOREUM.

The MMRG is also working with Professor Max Little, from Aston University, on the trial and Copenhagen-based companies, ZiteLab ApS and SENS Innovation ApS to create the app and develop the computer algorithms for the sensor patches to measure walking patterns.