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A test that involves drawing a spiral on a sheet of paper could be used to diagnose people at risk of developing Parkinson's disease, Australian researchers have found.
The researchers developed specialised automated electronic system that measured writing speeds, pen pressures and produced the Composite Index of Speed and Pen-pressure (CISP) score in Parkinson's patients -- all three measurements clearly indicated whether a participant had Parkinson's or not.
"Our aim was to develop an affordable and automated electronic system for early-stage diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, which could be used easily by a community doctor or nursing staff," said Poonam Zham, from RMIT University in Melbourne.
In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, the team used the system to measure pen speed and pressure during a simple spiral sketching task in a sample of healthy volunteers and Parkinson's patients with different levels of disease severity.
While pen speed and pressure alone were not sufficient to measure the severity between patients with different levels of Parkinson's, the new system with CISP score could tell whether the patients had level 1 or level 3 Parkinson's.