Monitoring Movement Disorders

Use Apple Watch’s movement disorder manager to monitor symptoms.


Doctors and researchers can monitor the symptoms of movement disorders continuously using Apple Watch. The CMMovementDisorderManager class provides a power-efficient approach to measuring and recording tremors and dyskinetic symptoms for Parkinson’s disease.

When you start monitoring the user, Apple Watch begins to gather motion data. To preserve battery life, the manager doesn’t perform calculations in real time. Instead, it periodically and opportunistically analyzes the raw data, saving the results on the user’s device. To preserve disk space, the manager only keeps results for seven days. During this time, you can use the manager to query for the results.

When using the CMMovementDisorderManager, your app should:

  • Confirm the user’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Only report on symptoms diagnosed by a clinician or self-reported by the user.

  • Remind the user to wear Apple Watch on their most affected arm in order to collect the most useful data.

While Apple does not intend to market movement disorder monitoring as a regulated medical device, depending on how your app uses the API, you may need to meet additional regulatory obligations. Seek the relevant regulatory advice as needed for your app.

Collect Data

To monitor Parkinson’s tremors or dyskinetic symptoms from a watchOS app:

  1. Provide a motion usage description in your WatchKit extension’s Info.plist file.

  2. Instantiate a CMMovementDisorderManager object.

  3. Ensure that movement disorder monitoring is available on the current device.

  4. Begin monitoring the user.

  5. Query for tremors or dyskinetic symptoms.

Provide the Motion Usage Description

Your watchOS app must provide an NSMotionUsageDescription key with a String value in the WatchKit extension’s Info.plist file. The system displays the motion usage description whenever it asks a user for permission to record their data. The description string appears in the Motion and Fitness authorization prompt.

At a minimum, your description must contain the following text: “In addition, this app would like to access your tremor and dyskinetic symptom data. This is only intended for use in those already diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”

You can include additional information explaining why the user should grant your app permission, and what your app intends to do with the data after this text.

Monitor and Query for Results

Listing 1 shows how to set up your movement disorder manager, and begin monitoring the user’s symptoms.

Listing 1

Set up and monitor the user

// Check to see if the movement disorder manager is available.
guard CMMovementDisorderManager.isAvailable() else {
    // The movement disorder manager is not availble on this device.

// Instantiate the Movement Disorder Manager
movementDisorderManager = CMMovementDisorderManager()

// Start monitoring the user. The maximum duration is seven days.
movementDisorderManager.monitorKinesias(forDuration: 60.0 * 60.0 * 24.0 * 7.0)

After you start monitoring, the manager leverages the CMSensorRecorder to record high-rate accelerometer data passively. When enabled, the CMSensorRecorder records 100 Hz samples. The movement disorder algorithms then periodically and opportunistically use this data to calculate tremors and dyskinetic symptoms.

The results of these calculations are stored on the device for seven days. To access the results, use the manager to query for the desired results, as shown in Listing 2.

Listing 2

Query for results

// Get the end date for the last batch of results.
guard let endDate = movementDisorderManager.lastProcessedDate() else {
    // The manager has not processed any results yet.

// Get the last batch of tremor results.
movementDisorderManager.queryTremor(from: previousDate, to: endDate) { (tremorResults, error) in
    // Check for errors.
    if let error = error {
        // Handle the error here.
        print("*** An error occurred: \(error.localizedDescription) ***")
    // Do something with the tremor results here.

// Get the last batch of dyskinetic symptom results.
movementDisorderManager.queryDyskineticSymptom(from: previousDate, to: endDate) { (dyskineticSymptomResults, error) in
    // Check for errors.
    if let error = error {
        // Handle the error here.
        print("*** An error occurred: \(error.localizedDescription) ***")
    // Do something with the dyskinetic symptom results here.

previousDate = endDate

To extend the monitoring past the initial expiration date, call the monitorKinesias(forDuration:) method again.

Understand the Manager’s Limitations

CMMovementDisorderManager measures resting tremors from Parkinson’s disease in the 3-7 Hz range. It returns metrics about the presence and relative severity of resting tremor as a CMTremorResult object. The CMMovementDisorderManager also computes metrics about choreiform dyskinetic symptoms, measuring the likely presence or absence of dyskinetic symptoms as observed at the wrist where Apple Watch is worn. It returns the results as CMDyskineticSymptomResult objects.

CMMovementDisorderManager operates under the following constraints:

  • The user should wear Apple Watch on the most affected arm.

  • Employ dyskinetic symptom tracking only for users who have chorea on the affected arm, either self-reported or diagnosed by a clinician.

  • There are many types of tremors. The movement disorder manager explicitly tracks resting tremor; it does not track action tremor or postural tremor, and it may not track finger tremor.

  • The manager does not explicitly track dystonia.

  • The results may include false positives and false negatives. The user's activity, watch band fit, and concomitant conditions (such as restless legs syndrome and non-Parkinsonian tremor) can affect the quality of the results.

The manager only explicitly measures symptoms from the wrist wearing Apple Watch. However, Apple Watch may sense symptoms transmitted through the body from other affected body parts, possibly resulting in misleading or false metrics.

See Also

Movement Disorder Manager

Adhering to the Movement Disorder Data Collection Requirements

Ensure that your users understand and have control over the data your app collects.

class CMMovementDisorderManager

A manager for recording and querying movement disorders.

class CMTremorResult

A result object that contains data about the presence and strength of tremors during a one-minute interval.

class CMDyskineticSymptomResult

A result object that contains data about the likely presence of dyskinetic symptoms during a one-minute interval.