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Finger tapping test and Parkinson’s

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be difficult to confirm by conventional assessments – relying on the judgement of a clinician observing and rating a patient’s movements, or costly brain scans.

It is estimated that clinical mis-diagnosis rates of Parkinson’s may be as high as 25 per cent, even among experienced neurologists. [1][2]

One commonly used dexterity assessment is the ‘finger tapping test’ – where a patient is asked to finger tap for around 10 to 15 seconds for as quickly and widely as they can.

Slowing of speed, loss of amplitude and pauses in finger taps are consistent with ‘bradykinesia’ – a slowness in movement that is one of the most important symptoms in Parkinson’s.

Research has shown that people with Parkinson’s have ‘slower and less rhythmic’ finger tapping movements compared to ‘healthy’ people.

The ClearSky PD-Monitor has been designed to help clinicians during diagnosis and is able to reveal microscopic movements in people with Parkinson’s that are invisible to the naked eye.

Non-invasive electromagnetic tracking sensors are positioned on the index finger and thumb and used to measure a patient’s movements in the finger-tapping test. In real-time, the movement of their fingers is recorded by a computer.

These movements are then analysed using evolutionary algorithms to measure subtle hesitations that are seen in people with Parkinson’s.

[1] N. P. S. Bajaj, V. Gontu, J. Birchall, J. Patterson, D. G. Grosset, and A. J. Lees. Accuracy of clinical diagnosis in tremulous parkinsonian patients: a blinded video study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry , 81(11):1223–1228, Nov 2010.

[2] C. B. Levine, K. R. Fahrbach, A. D. Siderowf, R. P. Estok, V. M. Ludensky, and S. D. Ross. Diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review of the literature. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ) , (57):1–4, May 2003.

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