Researchers Develop Innovative Tool To Diagnose Parkinson's Before Symptoms Emerge

Researchers Develop Innovative Tool To Diagnose Parkinson's Before Symptoms Emerge
Researchers develop innovative Parkinson's diagnostics 
based on a pen, paper and a digital drawing tablet.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's disease, although the exact prevalence of the disease is difficult to accurately determine. Currently the diagnosis relies on the clinician’s recognition of motor symptoms and response to medication (eg, levodopa). However, by the time motor symptoms emerge, significant neurological damage has already occurred. There is a desperate need for new solutions that can diagnose the disease before nerve cells suffer irreversible damage and symptoms emerge.

Now researchers have developed the first tool that can diagnose Parkinson's disease when there are no physical symptoms, offering hope for more effective treatment of the condition. The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology

The new diagnostic software developed by researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, involves a pen, paper and a digital drawing tablet and has an accuracy rate of 93 per cent. Patients perform different dexterity tasks, writing a sentence, writing letters and sketching a guided Archimedean spiral, and the software records and analyses the data in real time. 

Although more work is needed to validate the results, including a longitudinal study, the research team hope the tool could one day be used as a standard screening test to spot the condition in its earliest stages. The simple-to-use and cost-effective technology could transform the way we diagnose Parkinson's and change the lives of millions around the world.