Tweet Facebook Mail Parkinson's disease is the most common neurological disorder after dementia.But surprisingly there is no simple diagnostic test for it.Some patients live with the condition for many years before physical symptoms such as tremors or balance issues become obvious.Associate Professor and movement disorder expert Sanjay Raghav said this means treatment is often delayed, causing irreversible damage to cognitive nerve cells."By the time patients start having the shakes or the stiffness, slowness of movements, 80 per cent of the brain cells have already died," Professor Sanjay said.Researchers from Melbourne's RMIT University along with Dandenong Neurology have developed a simple screening tool that helps to determine early on if someone has the disease."It is a very simple test. What we are doing is we only having a pen, paper and a digital tablet,” chief investigator Professor Dinesh Kumar from RMIT said.RelatedRush to publish COVID-19 research saw errors in top medical journals triple, study findsNew health alert in South Australia after positive COVID-19 case breached quarantineTwo new coronavirus cases reported in South AustraliaPatients are instructed to draw a spiral, then specially-developed software analyses their work.According to Professor Kumar, a loss of dexterity, affecting how people write, can be an early indicator of Parkinson's disease."What we are looking for is the way they draw the spiral - the speed the pressure," Professor Kumar said.Trials of the test show it diagnoses the condition with 93 percent accuracy."The person draws a spiral and the system automatically spits out the risk of the person having Parkinson's disease,” Professor Kumar said.Researchers still have more work to do to refine the test before it can be rolled out more widely.It is hoped the spiral analysis will help give those suspected of having Parkinson's disease a definitive diagnosis so treatment to control symptoms can occur much earlier.
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