Parkinson’s disease: The early clue when typing on your keyboard that can signal disease

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Some medical circles consider Parkinson’s disease to be idiopathic because it lacks a clear cause. It is known, however, that deterioration of the dopamine system and the development of problems with movement and speech are two hallmarks of the condition. Signs of these changes may be signalled through typing, years before the onset of symptoms.

Early detection of the condition could present a window opportunity to halt its progression.

Some studies have determined that the way someone types on a keyboard may reveal early signs of Parkinson’s.

Researchers hope the findings will help spot the disease before it starts to cause severe tremors and changes in the brain.

Researchers probing this theory launched a test including hundreds of volunteers and monitored their typing over six months.

READ MORE: Parkinson’s: Two lifestyle behaviours that more than double your risk – it is not diet

One researcher called Charles Sturt University in Australia, who suffers from Parkinson’s himself, then reduced the sample to 76 individuals who had mild disease severity and were not receiving medication for it.

Sturt wanted to determine whether the times between key presses could be mapped against the frequency of hand tremors, which is a sine wave of 4-6Hz.

The idea was that if the data points could be plotted against the curve, there would be evidence of a Parkinson’s tremor.

The system was able to correctly identify patients who had mild Parkinson’s disease tremor with 78 percent accuracy.

Sturt had previously developed a separate tool that can detect early Parkinson’s disease by spotting changes in the flow of participants’ typing.

The researcher believes that combining the two systems could pave the way to building an apt diagnostic tool of clinical standards.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that can lead to a host of mobility issues including tremors and slowness.

The main characteristic of the condition is a tremor, which usually worsens under stress and may disappear entirely during sleep.

Other psychological symptoms of the disease, notably memory difficulties, are thought to result from deterioration of the brain chemicals.

Neurons that produce dopamine help relay messages between areas of the brain that control body movement.

The death of these neutrons makes it difficult for the body to control muscle tension and muscle movement.

Since the cause of Parkinson’s has not yet been determined, people with the condition are rarely studied before their symptoms appear.

People with Parkinson’s disease often show deterioration in the dopamine neurotransmitters, which are thought to be behind slowness of movement.

In fact, these patients can expect to see a deterioration of serotonin as much as 34 percent compared to otherwise healthy people.

Studies have shown that changes in the chemical imbalances in the brain may occur about 15 to 20 years before symptoms start to present.

These changes in the brain may offer clues as to when symptoms may appear.

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