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New motor system impairment diagnosing tool

14.01.2008
Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid are developing a tool that will allow doctors to easily evaluate the degree and type of the tremors caused in the upper limbs by some neurological disorders.

The DIMETER system makes it easier for doctors and other health professionals to objectively evaluate the tremors exhibited in the hands and fingers of patients affected by some disorders that impair their motor skills, such as Parkinson, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

To make such measurements, DIMETER uses an electromechanical apparatus that is controlled by the hand or finger of the affected patient and registers the movement and the forces that are generated. Using this device and a computer monitor, doctors execute a series of virtual static and motion tests, such as trying to keep the hand at rest, or describing a set movement, like a straight line or a spiral. In any of these tests a weight can be added to the patient to evaluate the effect on the tremor while the system constantly monitors and records each movement.

The computer gathers the data and processes it to provide the doctor with the information needed for the patient’s evaluation in a numerical or graphical format to the level of detail required. This report is objective and precise and enables doctors to adjust their diagnosis of the condition and monitor the progression of the disease, or the effectiveness of the treatment.

Medical diagnosis tool

The new device, patented by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, has been co-developed by the researchers Antonio Barrientos and Roberto González from the Grupo de Investigación en Robótica y Cibernética of the UPM, with the colaboration of the Centro Estatal de Autonomía Personal y Ayudas Técnicas (CEAPAT) of the IMSERSO.

This tool, designed for medical consults, not only provides information of the type and degree of the tremor, but helps by offering a diagnostic. This way doctors have a corroboration of the diagnosis and treatment for the patient ensuring they are cared for effectively. Moreover, the system collates accurate data of each patient’s case, helping the investigation and improving the diagnoses and treatment of the diseases that present such symptoms.

The DIMETER system has already been used at the Ramón y Cajal hospital to undertake a study of the effect that the Deep Brain Stimulation technique has on the tremors. The use of this system has also helped the development of a new system called ACORTE that uses the processed data from the DIMETER to enable people suffering from tremors to use a conventional computer mouse.

Ciencia y Sociedad | alfa
Further information:
http://www.upm.es

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