New Smartphone App to Diagnose Early Onset of Parkinson’s Disease

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EU-funded project called I-Prognosis aims to accelerate the diagnosis for PD using smart app that detects early onset of disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects movement, often including tremors. Nerve cell damage in the brain causes dopamine levels to drop, leading to the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It starts with a tremor in one hand and characterized by symptoms such as movement, stiffness and loss of balance. However, the disorder is hard to diagnose due slow symptoms, due to which patients can may not be able to receive treatment at right time. A four-year project led by Greece’s Aristotle University of Thessaloniki launched a smartphone and smartwatch app to help diagnose early symptoms of Parkinson’s.

“PD is a progressive and chronic neurological disease that often begins with mild symptoms that advance gradually over time,” said Professor Leontios Hadjileontiadis, coordinator of the project. “Symptoms can be so subtle in the early stages that they go unnoticed, as there are no PD-related biomarkers, such as blood tests, and findings on routine magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans are unremarkable — leaving the disease undiagnosed for years.”

I-Prognosis operates on various sensors used in modern mobile devices and machine learning. App gathers of the medical data of user and analyses it. The data includes voice characteristics while having conversations, the steadiness of their hands while holding their device, the way they enter keystrokes, and even their facial expressions on stored photos or the emotional content of text messages. However, the app is still at primary testing phase. According to the research team, the models will continued to be refined through February 2020. Currently, the app is available on the Google Play app store for Android users in Germany, Greece, Portugal, and the U.K.

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