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Smartphone App Could Be Used To Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease

Thursday May 01, 2014

Nastassia Baroni

NewsFeeds - Programs are being developed for smartphones that could be used to detect whether or not a person has Parkinson’s disease. A new initiative hopes to use the technology to circumvent the lengthy diagnosis process and help detect the disease and track symptoms.

Sky News reports, the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative was launched by British born mathematician and visiting professor at MIT, Max Little, and is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Michael J Fox Foundation.

The initiative aims to find a cheaper, more accessible method to diagnosis by categorising people’s voice patterns. Soon it will launch a new trial wherein up to 1,500 people will download software on to their smartphone that will track their body movement, voice and other data over six months.

“We have a hypothesis formed from earlier research that you can detect whether someone has Parkinson’s disease on the basis of their body movements, recorded using a smartphone,” Mr Little told Sky News.

His last study involved 17,000 people, both Parkinson’s sufferers and non-sufferers who called special numbers to record their voice tracks. Now, Little is analysing the recordings and once finished he hopes to create a system that analyses the voices automatically.

“The ultimate vision for Pakinson’s is you have smartphone software that you download, it would track your movement for a week, and then it would give you a probability that you might develop Parkinson’s,” he explained. “If we get sufficient data – it’s all down to participants – this is only a few years away.”

A new follow-on study has been announced and the Initiative is looking for participants. Visit www.parkinsonsvoice.org to register your interest.

Baroni, Nastassia (30 April 2014). NewsFeeds. Smartphone App Could Be Used To Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. http://newsfeeds.com.au/technology/smartphone-app-could-be-used-to-diagnose-parkinsons-disease/