New method helps target Parkinson's disease

November 20, 2012, Michigan State University

(Medical Xpress)—Health professionals may soon have a new method of diagnosing Parkinson's disease, one that is noninvasive and inexpensive, and, in early testing, has proved to be effective more than 90 percent of the time.

In addition, this new method has the potential to track the progression of Parkinson's, as well as measure the effectiveness of treatments for the disorder, said Rahul Shrivastav, professor and of Michigan State University's Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and a member of the team developing the new method.

It involves monitoring a patient's speech patterns – specifically, of the tongue and jaw.

"In Parkinson's disease, a common limitation is that the movements become slow and have a reduced range," said Shrivastav. "We believe we see this pattern in speech too – the tongue doesn't move as far as it should, doesn't move as quickly as it should and produces subtle changes in speech patterns."

This method is particularly sensitive to Parkinson's disease speech and, Shrivastav said, is effective with only two seconds of speech.

"That's significant in several ways: The detection methodology is noninvasive, easy to administer, inexpensive and capable of being used remotely and in telemedicine applications," he said.

Presently there are no tried-and-true methods for diagnosing Parkinson's. Shrivastav said if a person is showing early symptoms of the disease, which include , slower movements or rigid muscles, he or she is given a drug to treat the disease.

"If the symptoms go away," he said, "then it's assumed you must have Parkinson's disease."

In more advanced cases, he said, symptoms are usually prominent enough that it is fairly easy to diagnose.

Parkinson's disease is a affecting a half million people in the United States, with 50,000 newly diagnosed cases every year. It occurs when in the brain stop producing a chemical called dopamine, which helps control muscle movement. Without , the nerve cells cannot properly send messages, leading to the loss of muscle function.

While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, early detection is particularly important since the treatments currently available for controlling symptoms are most effective at that stage.

Explore further: People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

Related Stories

People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

November 9, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease may be more likely to have a movement disorder called leg motor restlessness, but not true restless legs syndrome as previous studies have suggested, according to a study published in the Nov. ...

Increased arm swing asymmetry is early sign of Parkinson's disease

December 13, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease swing their arms asymmetrically -- one arm swings less than the other -- when walking. This unusual movement is easily detected early when drugs and other interventions may help slow the disease, ...

Recommended for you

Investigators eye new target for treating movement disorders

January 19, 2018
Blocking a nerve-cell receptor in part of the brain that coordinates movement could improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia and other movement disorders, researchers at Vanderbilt University have reported.

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease

January 4, 2018
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018
Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

Robotic device improves balance and gait in Parkinson's disease patients

December 19, 2017
Some 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) every year. The American Institute of Neurology estimates there are one million people affected with this neurodegenerative disorder, with 60 years ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.