Alexa, Tell Me About MS

Alexa, Tell Me About MS
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MS_Wire_Ed_Tobias

Alexa, Amazon’s little voice-activated information box, has just received a multiple sclerosis infusion.

As part of MS Awareness Month, fifty facts about MS have been loaded into Alexa’s memory. If a user says “Alexa, start MS Awareness” the system will respond with a random MS fact. (And a short commercial message for drug maker Acorda).

Acorda Therapeutics, which makes the MS drugs Ampyra, Zanaflex and Qutenza, developed this “skill” for Amazon.  The “skill” draws its content from Acorda’s MS Self app, which is designed to help you manage your MS. On it you can record your symptoms, mood, energy level, mobility and activity. You can then generate reports to see how, over time, you’re doing. The app also has the ability to sync with a Fitbit and includes real-time weather information.

“Education is an important component of each person’s fight against multiple sclerosis,” says Acorda executive Michael Russo. “As we move towards becoming an increasingly digital society, it’s important that we provide solutions that match the way people live and work, and in this case that means voice search.”

Other apps that can help you manage your MS:

My Sidekick, by drug maker Biogen (Avonex, Tysabri, Tecfidera and others), is similar to the MS Self app. It offers a daily overview, tips to help you as you live with MS, and customized reminders that help you remember to use your trackers, take your medicine, and keep your doctor appointments. It also includes a built-in step tracker (to use with an iPhone 5s or later model) and a list of suggested questions to ask at your next doctor appointment to help you have more productive conversations. As someone who always forgets to ask something, I really like that feature.

My MS Manager, from the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. This one is available for both iOS and Android devices. It tracks your disease activity, stores medical information, and generates charts and reports for various metrics, such as treatments, moods, symptoms and more.

MS Buddy, from Healthline, matches you with other MS patients so you can share experiences. You provide your age, gender, location, type of MS, treatment, medication, and how long you’ve had multiple sclerosis. Then, each day, the app matches you with another user with a similar profile. Reach out to that person or not, it’s your choice.

Are any of these apps installed on my phone? No, because I’m not the kind of person who’s into keeping track of things like this. But hey, they’re all free.  So if you’re into apps, why not give a couple a shot? Then come back here and comment, letting us all know if you find any of them useful. Maybe you can convince me to give one a go.

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(You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com)

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Diagnosed with MS at age 32 in 1980, Ed has written the “MS Wire” column for Multiple Sclerosis News Today since August 2016. He presents timely information on MS, blended with personal experiences. Before retiring from full-time work in 2012, Tobias spent more than four decades in broadcast and on-line newsrooms as a manager, reporter, and radio news anchor. He’s won several national broadcast awards. As an MS patient communicator, Ed consults with healthcare and social media companies. He’s the author of “We’re Not Drunk, We Have MS: A tool kit for people living with multiple sclerosis.” Ed and his wife split time between the Washington, D.C. suburbs and Florida’s Gulf Coast.
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Diagnosed with MS at age 32 in 1980, Ed has written the “MS Wire” column for Multiple Sclerosis News Today since August 2016. He presents timely information on MS, blended with personal experiences. Before retiring from full-time work in 2012, Tobias spent more than four decades in broadcast and on-line newsrooms as a manager, reporter, and radio news anchor. He’s won several national broadcast awards. As an MS patient communicator, Ed consults with healthcare and social media companies. He’s the author of “We’re Not Drunk, We Have MS: A tool kit for people living with multiple sclerosis.” Ed and his wife split time between the Washington, D.C. suburbs and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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3 comments

  1. Yannis says:

    Google’s home may be smarter than Alexa (although that is well still debatable), but Alexa is definitely more useful, more reliable, more beautiful, sexier and with TONS of ever increasing skills. Problem is when you ask her to make you some coffee she responds that “Sorry without hands that’s not something I can Do.” and this is her only serious drawback. Other than that she can be a lot more useful than even a pet. She succeeds in making you love her down to her last chip and circuit.

  2. David Oberdorf says:

    That all sounds good, but since most of us with MS are on disability, we can’t afford the luxury of spending $180. for Alexa and $50 each for each additional Echo Dot for additional room, what good is it? Or is Amazon going to make it available to us at an affordable price?

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