New device uses handwriting to detect neurological disorders

New York: Researchers have developed a novel device that detects neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s and Parkinson`s by recording signals from a patient`s hand muscles during handwriting.

Detecting a nuero-degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, causing tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and loss of balance can be difficult, especially in early stages, researchers said.

They said that motor neurons transmit electrical signals to muscles to make them contract.

In the new detection system, a test subject attaches Electromyography (EMG) surface electrodes to his or her hand and wears a glove to hold the electrodes in place.

EMG is a process that records and graphs such electrical activity to yield information about the condition of a subject`s muscles and the nerve cells that control them.

The subject then writes on a tablet, repeating simple, stereotyped hand movements that involve two basic motor components: firmly holding a pen by the fingers and moving the hand and the fingers to produce written text.

The results are obtained from both the tablet and the surface EMG electrodes.

An analytical programme generates the result of muscle activity during this controlled set of movements and finds essential differences in the writing and writing behaviour of patients with Parkinson`s disease and older healthy control subjects.

Therefore, a clinician would be able to detect and study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson`s.

The developers of the system included National Science Foundation-funded engineers at Norconnect, led by its chief scientist Michael Linderman.


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