The HELP system is made up of a wearable subcutaneous pump, a intraoral cartridge inserted in patients’ mouth, a wearable movement sensor, blood pressure device and a control system that is constantly sending data, checking the patient and calculating the right quantity of drug to be supplied.


The HELP Project consortium designed a Health Monitoring System specifically targeted for the needs of Parkinson Disease (PD) patients. Without treatment, PD progresses over 5–10 years to a rigid, a kinetic state in which patients are incapable of caring for themselves. Death frequently results from complications of immobility, including aspiration pneumonia or pulmonary embolism. The availability of effective pharmacological treatment has altered radically the prognosis of PD; in most cases, good functional mobility can be maintained for many years, and the life expectancy increased substantially. Primarily, therapies are aimed at minimizing symptoms and maximizing function and quality of life.


However, intensive supportive care is needed, demanding the allocation of enormous resources besides the strictly medical ones. This suggests an alternative way to face PD, not only in managing patients at an individual level, but also in optimizing cost effectiveness of health care plans.

The HELP System (“Home-based Empowered Living for Parkinson’s disease patients”) proposes solutions to improve quality of life of PD patients based on:

  • A Body Sensor and Actuator Network (BS&AN) made up of portable/wearable and home devices to monitor health parameters (e.g. blood pressure) and body activity (e.g. to detect gait, absence of movement), and to release controlled quantity of drugs in an automatic fashion;
  • A remote Point-of-Care unit to supervise the patients under clinical specialists control.


The HELP project provides Parkinson Patients with a system that can underpin the right amount of drug according to their current symptoms at any moment.  Because it is a continuous drug administering system, drug peaks and “valleys” in the blood stream are avoided and so improving classical PD symptoms.


The HELP system is made up of two different sub-systems. One that is able to provide constant and gradual medication with a non-invasive approach compared with syringes or duodenal/subcutaneous pumps, the so-called intra-oral device (i.e. cartridge inserted in patients’ mouth) and another one that is capable to cope with the variations on the symptoms by supplying the right amount of drug at any time. In this one, the system is made out of a wearable subcutaneous pump, a wearable movement sensor and a mobile gateway that is constantly sending data to the platform. There, there are services checking the patients’ symptoms and calculating the right quantity of drug to be supplied. The blood pressure control is carried out at home because PD patients can develop hypotension when using these medications. 


Current results and impact:

The project has two different pilots in order to test the two sub-systems (i.e. intraoral device and the subcutaneous pump). The intraoral device pilot has been finished and has shown very good results with 12 patients (i.e. 6 in Italy and 6 in Israel). The first ever “buccaldose” device on the market has been manufactured during the last couple of months as a result of a partnership between Peh-Med and HSG-IMIT companies. This device can be used for an infinite range of diseases as it can support different medications. Pharmaceutical companies are the main target for the commercialisation of this cutting-edge product.

Currently, two drugs exist which can be used in infusion pumps for treating Parkinson’s symptoms, i.e. duodopa and apomorphine. Two powerful companies control the value chain in this market, including the distribution of subcutaneous pumps. These companies (both in competition) are studying the achievements of the HELP project carefully since its results could lead to a significant breakthrough in their market; a system of this kind is not yet available. Partially, the sensor is a contribution for a spin-off, led by the Politechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) that will commercialise this technology either to pharmaceutical companies or eHealth service providers.

In summary, the HELP project has been able to produce a unique and pioneer technology that will have a huge impact on the treatment of the Parkinson disease. Two new companies are the exploitation results of this project.


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