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Disease severity classification in MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive demyelinating disease of the central nervous system characterised by a wide range of motor and non‑motor symptoms. The level of disability of people with MS (pwMS) is based on a wide range of clinical measures, though their frequency of evaluation and inaccuracies coming from objective and self‑reported evaluations limits these assessments. Alternatively, remote health monitoring through devices can offer a cost‑efficient solution to gather more reliable, objective measures continuously. 

Measuring smartphone keyboard interactions is a promising tool since typing and, thus, keystroke dynamics are likely influenced by symptoms that pwMS can experience. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate whether keyboard interactions gathered on a person’s smartphone can provide insight into the clinical status of pwMS leveraging machine learning techniques. In total, 24 Healthy Controls (HC) and 102 pwMS were followed for one year. Next to continuous data generated via smartphone interactions, clinical outcome measures were collected and used as targets to train four independent multivariate binary classification pipelines in discerning pwMS versus HC and estimating the level of disease severity, manual dexterity and cognitive capabilities. The final models yielded an AUC‑ROC in the hold‑out set above 0.7, with the highest performance obtained in estimating the level of fine motor skills (AUC‑ROC=0.753). 

These findings show that keyboard interactions combined with machine learning techniques can be used as an unobtrusive monitoring tool to estimate various levels of clinical disability in pwMS from daily activities and with a high frequency of sampling without increasing patient burden.

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