MIT researchers have discovered a new way of detecting early-stage Parkinson’s , using a computer keyboard. Unique and ingenious are the first things that come to mind, and it makes one wonder what other everyday gadgets and pheriphals can be used in more ways than they were designed for.
The researchers designed plug-in software to measure how long subjects pressed each key before releasing it. Those with impaired motor skills ended up pressing keys for a longer duration. The team found that those with the condition exhibited “greater variation in the keystrokes” compared to the 15-person control group.
However impaired motor skills, doesn’t automatically equal parkinsons. In fact, the study’s original goal was to observe the effects of fatigue.
This new technique could help detect the early stages of Parkinson’s in which there are no standard lab tests to diagnose it just yet, and usually by the time the symptoms manifests itself in a more obvious manner, a big part of the brain has already been too damaged. By detecting the disease in its early stages, like most diseases, doctors will be able to better plan a treatment strategy that could potentially slow down its effects.
However, despite the promising results of the test, the results will need to be validated in larger studies with people in various stages of the disease before it can become a standard test that doctors can given to their patients.