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Scent-Delivery Devices for Olfactory Training in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

In a pilot study, researchers from University College London explored the use of scent-delivery devices (SDDs) as a digital healthcare tool for olfactory training in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients.

PD patients commonly experience olfactory impairment, often preceding motor symptoms by several years. Despite this, digital healthcare technologies in PD have primarily focused on motor symptoms, overlooking olfactory dysfunction.

The study engaged three PD patients in an online focus group, where they discussed the association between PD and olfaction, explored human-computer interaction (HCI) and sensory technologies, and were introduced to a new multichannel SDD with an accompanying mobile app.

Participants highlighted the lack of attention given to olfactory dysfunction by healthcare professionals prior to PD diagnosis and expressed interest in a small, portable SDD with customizable scent cartridges and a community-building mobile app.

While participants didn’t regularly engage in scent training, they indicated a willingness to consider it if it could potentially improve olfactory function.

The findings suggest that standardized digital SDDs integrated into routine healthcare check-ups may hold promise for enhancing olfactory senses in PD patients, leading to earlier diagnosis and improved management strategies.

Photo Description: (a) The current prototype of a six-channel scent-delivery device (SDD) for digital smell training, with size comparison to a pen demonstrating portability, (b) simple log in/sign up landing page of the SmellHealth app coupled with the SDD, and, (c) Screenshot from a sample view in the mobile app which displays user performance and progression with each smell training session completed over time.

Image Credit: E. Maggioni/OWidgets.

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