Diagnosing Parkinson's Over Phone

Ivanhoe Newswire - Imagine being told you have a devastating disease, and then finding out your doctor was wrong.

Up to 30-percent of people diagnosed with early Parkinson's disease are misdiagnosed.

Now two very different tools are aiming to cut those mistakes and help patients get the treatment they need.

His brother and sister have it, so Lane Scott wasn't surprised when his doctor said the disease had hit him too.

"He said I do believe you have Parkinson's," said Lane Scott who was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

But months later, he got surprising news. A new test called the Datscan showed he did not have Parkinson's.

"The Datscan actually measures that level of dopamine in the brain by directly targeting the dopamine transporter in the brain," explained Neurologist Holly Shill, MD at the Banner Boswell Med Ctr.

Less than five minutes after the test is complete, radiologists can see the results. When the brain's dopamine supply is normal, the pattern of the receptors have a crescent or comma shape.

"Getting the diagnosis early on will help us to select those patients who may be candidates for treatments that may slow progression or hopefully stop progression," said Dr. Shill.

Another new test being developed could help diagnose Parkinson's over the phone in 30 seconds.

Just like your arms and legs, your vocal organs are affected by the disease.

A team headed by MIT's Doctor Max Little is working on a system that uses special software to predict

Parkinson's based on how you say certain sounds. In a small study, the test was proven to be 99-percent accurate.

For Lane, the accuracy of the Datscan changed his life.

"It's hard to express the relief and the joy I experienced in knowing that no, I don't have Parkinson's," says Scott.

Two new tests helping to rule out, and pick up on Parkinson's disease.

With a quick three minute call you can help researchers with the Parkinson's voice initiative. They're looking to collect 10,000 voices of people with and without Parkinson's worldwide.

Their goal is to collect enough recordings to make the software reliable enough to work outside the lab, and potentially screen for the early signs of the disease.

 

For more information, visit www.parkinsonsvoice.org
 


BACKGROUND:

Parkinson's disease is when the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine are slowly destroyed, and dopamine is the brain chemical that helps to control muscle movement. Because of the lack of dopamine, Parkinson's is characterized by shaking and difficulty walking and moving. While Parkinson's is normally diagnosed in persons over the age of 50 years old, younger adults can also develop the disease and typically forms of Parkinson's that can run in the family are to blame when younger individuals develop Parkinson's. (Source: www.nih.gov)

TREATMENT:

No cure for Parkinson's disease exists but there are medications meant to help control symptoms, mostly by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Some severe side-effects are associated with Parkinson's medication such as hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea, and delirium. Certain lifestyle changes are also thought to help Parkinson's disease such as good general nutrition, regular rest, avoiding stress, and physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Surgeries may also help to ease symptoms for some people. These surgeries include deep brain stimulation in which electrical stimulators are placed in the brain, a surgery that destroys brain tissues cause symptoms, and stem cell transplant are still ongoing. (Source: www.nih.gov)


NEW TECHNOLOGY TO DIAGNOSE PARKINSON'S:

The DaTscan is a non-invasive test to see whether an individual has a Parkinsonian syndrome, which occurs when certain neurons in the brain degenerate. The DaTscan can show the difference between Parkinsonian syndrome and a condition called essential tremor, a relatively benign condition which can mimic the early signs of Parkinson's. What happens in a DaTscan is the drug is injected into the bloodstream (normally through an IV in the arm) to assess the neurons containing dopamine and then a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the patient's brain. However, the DaTscan cannot determine which form of the Parkinsonian syndrome an individual has, though Parkinson's disease is the most common. (Source: www.cedars-sinai.edu)


Another way to possibly diagnose Parkinson's disease over the phone is currently being studied by Dr. Max Little. Dr. Little believes that since the vocal organs are affected the same as an individual's limbs in Parkinson's, by using a digital microphone to record a person's voice in combination with precision voice analysis software, Parkinson's can be diagnosed earlier. It is not only low cost and non-invasive, but the test can also be done at home and is accurate. However, the method still needs to go through more trials, but it's an exciting step toward discovering the early biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. (Source: www.ted.com)