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October 15, 2012
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common types of disorders of central nervous system, and according to the most recent estimations, it affects about 6 million people around the globe. This is a degenerative disorder of idiopathic nature, or one of the diseases that has no known causes. Parkinson’s disease symptoms on the earliest stages of it include difficulty with walking, postural instability, shaking, slowness of movements, rigidity, voice disorders, and so on. On the further stages, Parkinson’s disease symptoms include cognitive disturbances and all other signs of dementia-like brain disorders, as well as such symptoms as hallucinations, chronic insomnia, urinary incontinence, excessive sweating, double or blurred vision, and others. Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed mainly in the elderly people aged 55+.
For the moment, there is no cure for this serious health condition. However, a number of Parkinson’s disease treatment options can be offered to the patients in order to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. There are three key solutions to assist in managing the problem: surgery, medications, and complex multidisciplinary management. Medications and pharmacological treatment for Parkinson’s disease are usually offered during the early stages and can aid reducing the first symptoms very effectively. Surgery is an option which can help treating motor symptoms. Lesional and deep brain stimulation are among the most commonly chosen surgical types of treatment. Finally, on the latest stages, patients can use complex management programs, which include such elements as a healthy diet, palliative care, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. All 3 Parkinson’s disease treatment options are being widely practiced and can help reduce life-threatening reactions.
As a rule, Parkinson’s disease diagnosis is done by analyzing the medical history of the patient, analyzing brain scans and doing a basic neurological examination (analyzing motor responses, sensory reactions, etc.). However, it may not be always easy to recognize Parkinson’s disease on its early stages, especially in those patients who’ve already been diagnosed with other degenerative disorder(s) like Alzheimer’s disease. Another very common difficulty linked to diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is inability of the patients to attend clinics for quite lasting and time-consuming examinations and tests. Finally, some elderly simply can’t afford visiting doctors for these kind of examinations. That is why, according to the most recent statistics, every one of five cases of Parkinson’s disease is never diagnosed, and such patients live with Parkinson’s disease symptoms being not aware about the problem and its possible solutions.
A new interesting method of Parkinson’s disease diagnosis is offered by a group of researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. Scientists suggest using computer technology to diagnose the problem, and their method is actually very simple. Since even in the earliest stages of this health condition, Parkinson’s disease symptoms include speech disturbances and voice disorders, American innovators offer using speech-processing software to diagnose the condition. More over, they offer special algorithm which can be used as a distant technology, so a simple three-minute phone call will possibly be enough to diagnose the problem, instead of hours of examinations and tests. The software designed by the experts works to identify possible voice changes in patients (including hoarseness, breathiness, and others), both in those who were never diagnosed by the disease, as well as in those who suffer from this health condition and undergo a certain Parkinson’s disease treatment.
The scientists analyzed 263 recording of 43 people with various intonations of a simple “ah” sound. After being adjusted to the specifics of the voice of those with Parkinson’s disease symptoms, the algorithm managed to identify speech markers with 99 per cent precision. “This kind of non-invasive technology, which can be seamlessly integrated into people’s lives, could give you data on their social life, daily patterns, and track them over time,” said Max Little, one of the study leaders. The technology was recently presented at the TEDglobal conference in Edinburgh, UK, and received very high reviews of other experts as a very promising tool to maximize the effectiveness of early Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Little and his team are convinced that the similar technology can be successfully used for diagnosing many other diseases and health conditions, regardless of being used on the phone or not. You can find a lot of interesting information about this breakthrough technology, as well as even contribute in the ongoing experiment by visiting this website.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.