Being diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) can bring on a lot of uncertainty. This chronic condition doesn’t have a known cause. The symptoms and outlook are also unpredictable, as PPMS progresses differently for everyone.

Some people who have MS are able to remain active and mobile for years, while others lose this ability within the first few months of diagnosis. Research has found exercise can help you manage many symptoms and may also help improve cognitive function.

Wearable devices are a growing part of the fitness market.

In the next few years, an estimated 300 million wearables will be sold each year, representing almost 15 times as many shipments made in 2014. They’re also changing the way people living with MS can monitor their symptoms and their mobility.

What are wearable devices?

Wearable devices are portable gadgets that allow you to track, manage, and understand your overall health.

Most wearable devices sync with mobile apps or websites to track and record statistics and habits. They can manage everything from the number of steps you take to your sleeping patterns to how many calories you eat.

Can wearable devices really help people with MS?

While being mobile and fit is important for everyone, it’s especially important for people with MS. This can be challenging because fatigue and loss of mobility are two of the most common symptoms of MS.

People with the condition may also mistakenly think they’re getting more exercise than they actually are. That’s how wearables fit into the picture. They help people both with and without MS become more accountable for their fitness levels.

One of the advantages of wearable devices is their ability to track health goals 24/7.

These devices go beyond what doctors and rehabilitation specialists see while patients are in their offices for appointments. People with PPMS can share their health statistics and measures with their doctors. Such data may prove helpful to researchers.

And some newer devices can also detect when you’ve taken a hard fall. Depending on the situation, if you don’t get up shortly afterward, the device may then notify family or emergency responders.

How do I choose a wearable device?

Deciding which wearable to buy is a matter of personal taste, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier!

Most are worn around the wrist. Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone are considered the most successful fitness tracker brands, while Samsung, Pebble, Fitbit, Apple, Sony, Lenovo, and LG rank highest in smart watches.

The first question to ask yourself is what kind of information you want to know.

Are you curious about how many steps you’re taking in a day, or do you want to record how many hours of shuteye you’re getting each night? Are you interested in joining a larger tracker community online, or do you want to manually sync your data to your smartphone?

Second, how much do you want to spend on the device? Price ranges vary depending on what the devices record and how they record it.

Answering these questions can help make the decision a little easier.

“Consumer devices can measure number of steps, distance walked, and sleep quality on a continuous basis in a person’s home environment. These data could provide potentially important information to supplement office visit exams.”
– Richard Rudick, MD