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Parkinson's Disease

A keyboard to detect first signs of Parkinson’s

A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers cracked an algorithm that is capable of detecting even minute fluctuations in the way you type on a keyboard. This is being seen as the first step to getting an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The way in which a person hits a keyboard’s is a good indicator of his physical capabilities and state of fatigue. The algorithm developed by American and Spanish scientists monitors keyboard touches.

At the outset, the researchers divided a group of 20 participants into two parts: the first was well-rested and typed though the day on a computer. The other was made to perform the same task at night, deprived of sleep. This exercised showed that fatigue changes the way you type, reaction time becoming slightly longer.

Published in the scientific journal Nature, their conclusions suggest that this algorithm, focused on the length of time a key is pressed, could be used to detect warning signs of Parkinson’s disease.

This chronic neurodegenerative condition develops 5 to 10 years before the first symptoms appear. These manifest themselves primarily in slowed movement, tremors, rigid muscles and impaired posture and balance.

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