Friday, July 26, 2013

Device Uses Handwriting to Detect Neurological Disorders

To help detect neurodegenerative diseases, researchers have built a system that records signals from hand muscles during handwriting.

This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Each year, more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, causing tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and loss of balance. Detecting it can be difficult, however, especially in early stages. Now, to detect and study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, researchers have built a system that records signals from hand muscles during handwriting.

Motor neurons transmit electrical signals to muscles to make them contract. Electromyography (EMG) is a process that records and graphs such electrical activity to yield information about the condition of a subject's muscles and the nerve cells that control them. In the new detection system, a test subject attaches EMG surface electrodes to his or her hand and wears a glove to hold the electrodes in place. The subject then writes on a tablet, repeating simple, stereotyped hand movements that involve two basic motor components: firmly holding a pen by the fingers and moving the hand and the fingers to produce written text. The results are collected from both the tablet and the surface EMG electrodes.  

For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/38469-tablet-detects-early-parkinsons-nsf-ria.html

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