Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease Via Keyboard

Photo credit Colin 
via Wikimedia commons
Photo credit Colin via Wikimedia commons

Internet of Things (IoT), big data, smart devices all these and many other technological advances are contributing a great deal and making human lives much easier and productive. Where lots of researchers support these concepts there are many critics as well whose point is that these technologies are making people lazy and dependent on technology and gadgets. Kids prefer to spend most of their time online or playing mobile games which have dire effect on their studies and health as they lack focus while studying and choose not to play outside of technology.. on the playground.

People spend less quality time with family as they are so much occupied with their smart phones and tablets that they hardly notice things happening around them. Easy access to data is another concern as one cannot always restrict certain people from gaining access to their personal details which can result in severe consequences. All these concerns are valid and many researchers and organizations are working to resolve these issues, but even the critics cannot ignore the positive aspects of these technologies. Large amounts of data leads to a more accurate analysis which ultimately results in much better decision making.

A group of researchers from MIT is utilizing this data for their research and developing algorithms which have amazing potential of changing many human lives. This research is about “diagnosing Parkinson’s disease through keyboard”. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system that results in cognitive disturbances, tremors, stiffness, postural instability and slowing of movement. Researchers have not found any cure for the disease yet and even early diagnosis is a difficult task as there are no standard lab tests. MIT researchers are working on an algorithm which will help in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease through any ordinary keyboard.

After rigorous research scientists found that a typist with a perfectly fine nervous system taps most of the keys at a consistent rate. Typists who suffer from sleep deprivation, fatigue or other nervous system disorders, tend to press the keys for a longer duration. the initial goal of this research was to distinguish between typing patterns of those who are fully rested from those suffering from sleep deprivation or fatigue.

During their research, scientists found similarities between typing patterns of Parkinson’s patients and those with sleep deprivation. The information gives a new direction to the study and now researchers are working on these patterns to distinguish between Parkinson’s patients and those experiencing fatigue or sleep deprivation. The study is in its preliminary stage and researchers are refining the algorithm to achieve this goal while developing a smart phone app. With the success of this research, MIT scientists will create history in medical science.

2 Comments

  • oraclemay says:

    Gosh, I have to wonder what this means for me as I often type when I am tired. When I begin something I have to complete it. It is amazing that technology can be used in such a positive way.

  • Diane Lane says:

    This is what I love about technology and the internet. I enjoy the fun and social aspects of them as well, but I primarily love that they have the potential to change lives, and ultimately, to change the world. I’m sure once they develop this technology fully, other uses will be determined, and hopefully hearing about this will spur others on, to develop similar and even more advanced programs.

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