4/20/18 · Institutional

«Music is a natural remedy with no contraindications»

Photo: UOC

Photo: UOC

Teresa Fèrriz is in charge of New Projects at the UOC and laid the groundwork for the Parkinsons app

 

Teresa Fèrriz is in charge of New Projects at the UOC and laid the groundwork Parkinsons, an app to improve the wellbeing of Parkinson's sufferers through music. Parkinsons won an ideas competition at the collaborative innovation community Open eHealth Parkinson, promoted by the UOC, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau Research Institute, and the technology solutions company GMV.

 

 

Teresa Fèrriz is in charge of New Projects at the UOC and laid the groundwork Parkinsons, an app to improve the wellbeing of Parkinson's sufferers through music. Parkinsons won an ideas competition at the collaborative innovation community Open eHealth Parkinson, promoted by the UOC, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau Research Institute, and the technology solutions company GMV.

 

Parkinsons is...

An app that helps to control the symptoms of patients with Parkinson's through music: the beneficial effects on mood and mobility difficulties are extraordinary! Music is a natural medicine with no side effects.

How did it come about?

As a wonderful idea; but without a multidisciplinary team like ours it would never have become more than just that, an idea. During the open innovation process, where it started taking shape (Open eHealth Parkinson), fine professionals in design, music and dance, music therapy, mobile technologies, co-creation and, of course, medicine joined the team. We are fortunate to have a team of high-level scientific consultants, who have ties to the Movement Disorders Unit at Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. We are all committed to applying our expertise, knowledge and professional experience to this project: it is our contribution to supporting our family and friends every day... and, of course, all the people we don't know but who can benefit because this app will be free.

 

UOC

 

Is there a specific target user for this app?

The app is personalized from the moment of installation based on the patient's sound-music history, tastes and the state of the disease. This means it can be used by anyone who has the disease, to any degree. Moreover, every time you enter the app it asks you how you feel, to adapt the daily session to the situation at hand and time of use.

How can it be accessed?

We have designed Version 1 for everyone; it will be distributed on mass digital platforms and will be free. We think socially responsible companies should sponsor it. Isn't the fact that it is universal and open to everyone with Parkinson's reason enough to help? On World Parkinson's Day we want to call on everyone interested in committing to the project.

Are there other similar apps on the international market?

eHealth has come a long way (in fact, at our University we have a specialized centre working on it with great energy and enthusiasm), and medical apps are increasing exponentially day by day. We believe we have to provide solutions for very specific groups, carefully define needs and respond with useful solutions. For Parkinson's sufferers there are many apps that are particularly useful for monitoring the disease and helping the patient to control the symptoms. But we haven't found one that puts music’s potential for healing at the service of these patients. There are apps that perform a specific function, but none that include all the different facets.

What is different about it? What would you highlight?

The personalization: each session focuses on meeting the needs of the person in that precise moment. And, above all, the features designed have been honed based on physical therapy sessions as well as comments and requests from the patients themselves. We are working on processes of ongoing improvement. Parkinsons is the result of an analysis of the processes of physical therapy sessions transferred to the online environment so that their benefits are universally accessible "for everyone, anywhere and at any time". Just like the UOC when it was created...

You presented the prototype at the ideas competition. What is the second step?

We are in the development phase. We have the logical ambition of presenting an excellent product before the end of the year, but our current resources are not enough. We need support. With the resources we have, we can finish the app but it will appear without some very important features that will make it even more useful and innovative. If we find more support, we can make a high-level product, internationally compatible, in different languages and with a global reach. We need socially committed people and institutions on our board of sponsors and contributors, which is being formed, and we want to invite you to have a coffee with us: let us convince you that it's worth supporting Parkinsons. You can find our details at www.parkinsons.cat.

This project brings together many facets, but can we highlight that of technology for social good.

When we won the Open eHealth Parkinson competition, a journalist asked us if an on-site music therapy session would be more valuable. And I replied that, if you have that opportunity, of course. There is nothing comparable to the warmth of human contact and socializing with other patients. But for someone who uses the public health system (which does not subsidize therapies like this), lives in a small town or has mobility issues, access to a music therapy session is impossible. So...

Would Parkinsons be an example of how, at university level, we can respond to social and market needs?

I'm sure of it! One of the pillars of the UOC Strategic Plan 2017-2020 is to have a social impact, and Parkinsons is an example of how, when those of us at a university set about improving society and cooperating with other high-level institutions and professionals, we can achieve unimaginable results. In this case, it is even more special because we are working for the most vulnerable groups.

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