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Monitoring how people type on keyboard may help treat Parkinson's disease, claims study

A new technique that monitors the way people type on keyboards could help in early detection and potential cure of Parkinson’s disease, one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. The

India TV Lifestyle Desk India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi Published on: October 06, 2016 19:00 IST
typing on keyboard
People type On Computer Keyboard May Help monitor Parkinson's

A new technique that monitors the way people type on keyboards could help in early detection and potential cure of Parkinson’s disease, one of the most common neurological disorders in the world.  

 
The breakthrough has been claimed through the development of a new monitoring technique that makes possible to ascertain the progression of Parkinson's as patients interact with a computer keyboard.
 
According to researchers, including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, the technique helps monitor the patients as they perform ordinary tasks such as typing emails or updating their Facebook status.
 
Although there is no cure for Parkinson's Disease, there are treatments that can reduce the severity of a patient's symptoms.
 

For these treatments to be effective, doctors need to regularly monitor the patient's symptoms at home.
 

In this way, the technique, which is based on technology originally developed to replace computer passwords, allows Parkinson's signs to be monitored as people perform ordinary tasks such as typing emails or updating their Facebook status, said Luca Giancardo, from MIT.
 
"This approach uses something we do normally - interacting with a digital device - so it does not add any additional burden or take time away from daily activities," he said.
 
Existing methods to evaluate the severity of Parkinson's signs are based on trained medical personnel assessing the patient's ability to perform a number of movement activities.
 
However, these assessments tend to be carried out in a clinical setting, limiting how often they can be undertaken.
 
Researchers set out to study whether keystroke dynamics, a technique used to identify a computer user by the time they take to press down and release each key - typically around 100 milliseconds - could be used to monitor the motor effects of Parkinson's disease in the home.
 
Researchers asked 42 patients with early stage Parkinson's disease and 43 healthy subjects to type out a text of their choosing for 10-15 minutes on a computer keyboard.
 
The computer was installed with software designed to measure the timing of each press and release.
 
When they analysed the typing data, they found a significant variation in the timing of each press and release in patients with early stage Parkinson's disease, while in the healthy control group this was much more uniform.
 
"By looking at the variation of this press and release, we were able to find a signature that allows us to detect Parkinson's disease in our cohort," said Giancardo.
 
The system can be installed as software on a standard computer, or added to the hardware of a device, or even deployed on a webpage.
 
Monitoring patients' signs as they go about their daily activities could help doctors determine the most effective dosage of medication to prescribe at that time, and could ultimately help researchers to develop treatments to halt the disease, researchers said.
 
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
 
(With agency inputs)

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