Computer Keyboards Can Detect Early Stage Parkinson's Disease

Posted: Apr 3 2015, 12:20pm CDT | by , in Technology News


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Computer Keyboards can detect early stage Parkinson's disease

People with conditions affecting motor function have different typing patterns

It is considered almost impossible to detect the early signs of the Parkinson's disease since no specific lab tests have been identified for this purpose and during the early stages of the onset of the disease the symptoms are usually too subtle to be easily noticed. However, some brilliant MIT researchers have figured out their way through this and they believe that a normal computer keyboard can be used to detect signs of the disease.

Their study has revealed that people who have defects in their motor functions have the tendency to display a different typing pattern as compared to those who have absolute normal functioning. The basic idea is to make use of a plug-in software which these researchers have designed and it has the capacity to measure how long subjects pressed each key before releasing it. People with abnormal motor functioning would press keys for a longer period of time.

The problem with the diagnosis of the Parkinson's disease at an early stage is that by the time the symptoms become visible, a major part of the brain (almost half of it) is already dead. With the help of an early diagnosis, doctors can plan a treatment strategy which will slow down the effects. There is one other confusing development here; a Motor skill impairment isn’t always an indication of the Parkinson’s disease. Initially the study was only meant to test the effects of fatigue but it was later deduced that the same results can be applied for the detection of Parkinson’s disease.

The study focused on 21 patients who went through this testing and those who suffered from the disease showed "greater variation in the keystrokes" as compared to the control group. These developments do sound quite encouraging but before doctors can make proper use of these tests, they have to go through larger studies with people in various stages of the disease.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/32" rel="author">Ahmed Humayun</a>
Ahmed Humayun is a technology journalist bringing you the hottest tech stories of the day.




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