Brain Game

The American Medical Association estimates that one in every 200 people will develop Parkinson’s Disease, a disorder that affects movement, speech and swallowing. There is no cure, but a video game created by Arizona researchers can detect the disease before symptoms appear. Early detection can help battle the disease.

What seems like light hearted fun is actually serious business for Chris. The speed of her wrist movement can tell researchers if she’s developing Parkinson’s Disease.

“In Parkinson’s disease these patients move the same regardless of which kind of task which kind of target they have to move to. It’s actually that difference in their velocity that is the best factor in identifying the Parkinson’s patient. ”

Richard had Parkinson’s Disease for over a year before it was diagnosed ten years ago. If it had been caught earlier, drug therapy might have calmed Richard’s tremors and made swallowing less difficult. Richard believes the video test can give others the fighting chance he never had.

Richard, Parkinson’s patient:
“They’re non-invasive and they’re harmless tests and if it showed early onset of the disease I think it would be well for them to know it.”

The sense of smell often disappears in a Parkinson’s patient. A scratch and sniff test can detect the disease 80 percent of the time. When the video game was added, the accuracy for detecting Parkinson’s Disease rose to over 90 percent.

So the combination of them really gives us a lot more power in terms of identifying a person with Parkinson’s disease and a lot more accuracy.

Chris sailed through the tests, but her family history of Parkinson’s will always put her at higher risk. Dr. hopes that one day the video game will become as routine during annual physicals as mammograms and cholesterol readings

Source: Ivanhoe @ 1999

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