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Early recognition of Parkinson's Disease

Specialists of the brain investigation department of the Scientific Research Institute of Neurology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, are developing methods for early pre-clinical recognition of Parkinson's disease. The method is based on the fact that even at early stages of the disease, the patients’ head, eye and hand movement parameters change.

Parkinson's disease is one of the most widespread neurodegenerative diseases. It develops as a result of injuries of 60 to 80 percent of neurons in a single part of the brain. It is important to find the way to “catch” the disease before neuron degeneration reaches the critical level, and the patient starts suffering from tremor and movement disorders.

To find reliable methods of early diagnostics, the Moscow neurologists examined 12 healthy probationers and 16 patients suffering from the first and the second stages of Parkinson's disease. The participants to the experiment were tested with the help of the hardware and software complex, which analyzes the moving activity. The probationers were (by moving the eyes only) to fix the look on the target, which was shifting across at the angle of 40 degrees. They were suggested to make sliding movements by the head to the left and to the right along the horizontal plane, retaining the look on the target, which moved synchronously with the head movements. And, finally, after several open-eye training sessions, the participants transferred the cursor onto the target by memory, their eyes being curtained off. These three tests allow to check how the patients move separate parts of the body (only eyes, head or hand). In the course of the fourth test, the probationers shifted the cursor from one target to another by moving the eyes, head and hand, i.e. by coordinating their movements.

At the early stage of the disease, individual movements’ indices were changed with the patient, but these changes differed slightly from the age standard. However, all parameters of coordinated movement with Parkinson's disease patients reliably differed from those of healthy probationers. Apparently, at the early stage of the disease, the brain is still able to impede the disease development and to compensate for movement disorders. That is why, although each individual movement occurs with a mistake, the mistake is minimal, and it is not always possible to reveal it. However, in case of coordinated movement all these minor delays, inaccuracies in movements and multistage of movements “superimpose” upon each other, and movement disorders become evident.

The researchers assume that it is the coordinated movement disorder that can be considered as one of the markers for early stage of Parkinson's disease. Analysis of such disorders drastically increases the probability of early disease recognition. Nevertheless, the authors of the hypothesis emphasize that this is only a hypothesis so far, and further experiments are need to verify it.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
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