NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - These days there is one item people keep with them constantly: a smartphone.

Now a Rutgers University professor has received a $400,000 grant to see if those smartphones can gather data on the effects of conditions that literally cause people to shake, such as Parkinson's Disease.

The National Institutes of Health gave the grant to Jean-Francois Daneault, an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Health Professions, to study data that can be collected from mobile and wearable devices.

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“We propose leveraging smartphones to help non-specialists in the diagnosis, monitoring and management of movement disorders that often exhibit overlapping symptoms, such as Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and other functional movement disorders,” said Daneault.

As the population ages, including the large number of "Baby Boomers," more people are living with movement disorders but there is a shortage of neurologists and movement disorder specialists trained to diagnose and manage treatment.

Smartphone-based platforms will assess the severity of symptoms such as balance, gait, rest tremor, upper limb coordination, and cognitive impairments, Rutgers officials said.

To collect the data, sensors will be embedded in smartphones, and the information will be sensors will be transmitted to a data bank in a secure server, where it will be analyzed. This will be compared to information collected from a control group of healthy people.

Daneault, who received a doctorate degree in Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, will develop algorithms to gauge the severity of symptoms and distinguish different movement disorders from one another.

The study will assess whether the smartphone platform is an effective way to monitor patients over the long-term. Patients will be asked to use the smartphone application at home to determine longer-term compliance.