Toronto: Are you worried at sudden shaking of hands and arms after quitting alcohol recently? Take heart as there is now an app that can judge the severity of tremors owing to alcohol withdrawal.
Researchers have developed the world's first app to measure tremor strength, providing objective guidance to direct treatment decisions.
The app also shows promise in making solid predictions about whether the tremor is real or fake.
“Alcohol-related illness is commonly encountered not only in the emergency room but also elsewhere in the hospital. This app gives clinicians a much easier way to assess patients using real data,” said professor Narges Norouzi from University of Toronto.
Norouzi and professors Bjug Borgundvaag and Parham Aarabi used iPods to help guide treatment for alcohol withdrawal.
“Judging tremor severity is harder than it sounds - it requires considerable medical expertise, and even experienced doctors' estimates can vary widely,” Norouzi added.
The team tested the app on 49 patients experiencing tremors in the emergency room and 12 nurses trying to mimic the symptom.
Their study shows that three-quarters of patients with genuine symptoms had tremors with an average peak frequency higher than seven cycles per second.
Only 17 percent of nurses trying to "fake" a withdrawal tremor were able to produce a tremor with the same characteristics, suggesting that this may be reasonable cut-off for discriminating real from fake.
The app uses data from an iPod's built-in accelerometer to measure the frequency of tremors for both hands for 20 seconds.
“As sensors improve and algorithms become smarter, there is a good chance that we may be able to solve more medical problems and make medical diagnosis more efficient,” added professor Aarabi.
Norouzi and the team are scheduled to present their findings at the International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Chicago Aug 29.