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Voice recording to detect Parkinson's disease

Fri 28 Sep, 2012 // Firstnumber Team
Parkinson's telephone diagnosis

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a computer programme that can identify Parkinson's sufferers with 99 per cent accuracy by analysing their speech, they claim.

The technology assesses breathiness, tremors and other factors in people's voices deemed to be early signs of the disease.

Dr Max Little, a British researcher leading the team at MIT has hope that the system could eventually be used over the telephone.

Parkinson's sufferers and health volunteers will be invited to take part in a study, in which the patients will be asked to answer a few questions, say “aah” and speak some sentences. By analysing the data acquired, health professionals could be able to perform a diagnosis remotely.

"Science tells us voice impairment might be an early sign of Parkinson's. It sounds counterintuitive as Parkinson's is a movement disorder but the voice is a form of movement," Little told the press.

"Neurologists look at changes in the ability to move, which is done with the limbs, but we are looking in the vocal organs – the sounds that come out of the mouth. We are fairly confident we can detect the disease over the telephone."

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