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Child and adolescent mental health: Using wearable technology to improve care

Using web-based and wearable technology to improve mental healthcare for children and adolescents.

The Centre for Interventional Paediatric Psychopharmacology and Rare Diseases (CIPPRD) at the Maudsley Hospital treats children and young people with complex neurodevelopmental, genetic and neurodegenerative disorders, offering integrated mental and physical healthcare, using clinically cost-effective and innovative interventions alongside patient involvement.

CAMHThe CIPPRD is part of the King’s Health Partners Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinical Academic Group.

The Centre identified that many of their complex and treatment-resistant patients have emotional, behavioural and autonomic dysregulation (EBAD), especially those with rare diseases such as Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, resulting in severe mental and physical disability. To help address this, they harnessed the potential of e-Health solutions. Web-based patient monitoring via the HealthTrackerTM platform monitors specific symptoms related to the patient’s medical and psychiatric conditions, psychotropicinduced side-effects, quality of life and patient experience. Biometric physiological data, captured using wearable sensor technology, provides real-time information on heart rate, skin conductance, blood volume pressure, perspiration and temperature.

The monitoring of real-time biometric physiological and web-based data and how they relate to medication use as well as external factors assists both personalised care and shared treatment decision-making. This expertise and approach has allowed CIPPRD to become the first UK centre to participate in a randomised clinical trial of a novel therapeutic agent in Rett Syndrome.

In people with intellectual disability, poor communication, and EBAD, capturing physiological responses using wearable technology allows for a biometric proxy measure that assists monitoring and improves treatment decision-making. Once the physiological dysregulation has been identified, our clinicians teach parents and carers how to use wearable technology to track changes that require intervention. They also learn to understand what activities produce physiological stress and what interventions help to normalise the physiological state. This allows for the development of ‘biometric guided therapy’, personalised stress management toolkits and targeted pharmacotherapy. The effectiveness of these innovations has been demonstrated through research studies published by the Centre.