Gaming Meets Science: Parkinson’s App the Latest from Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard

Published by: Surrey Now

Date: October 13, 2016

Author: Amy Reid

Kathy O'Donoghue, Managing Director of Conquer Mobile

Kathy O’Donoghue, Managing Director of Conquer Mobile

Little did Kathy O’Donoghue know when she bumped into Dr. Martin McKeown at a fundraiser that the two might change Parkinson’s patient care forever.

She is a former EA game builder and self professed “technogeek” whose sister has Parkinson’s. He is a director of UBC’s Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre.

When their worlds collided in May, the idea for an app was born, an app that could improve Parkinson’s care through simple cognition games.

“I certainly like video gamers and techies using their skills to enable the medical industry. I think it’s such a strong story,” said Donoghue. “This is the time to connect the medical scientists with the computer scientists. I’m in if I can help.”

O’Donoghue, managing director of Surrey-based Conquer Mobile, spent about five years developing games at EA Games, including Need for Speed.

“In electronic arts, we built games that were commercial, sports games, so it’s a pretty good feeling to build technology that may help your family,” she told the Now. “I’m motivated to find a cure but I’m motivated to help in any way I can so that patients like my sister can have better access to care and to neurologists.”

Donoghue’s sister (pictured) plays her games every day and “thinks it’s pretty cool,” she said with a smile.

The app, CognitiaPD, is part of a large-scale Parkinson’s research study that will collect data through mobile games. The study, being led by a team from UBC, uses Conquer Mobile’s game to collect data and hopefully improve clinical care.

“No medicine is required, only a smart phone and a connection to the App Store,” said Donoghue. “It can be made available worldwide.”

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