Experts reveal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
According to experts, the first sign of Parkinson's disease may not be the classic muscle stiffness, tremors, and balance issues.
According to Lithuanian researchers, altered speech may occur before the other hallmark symptoms.
The condition is thought to affect over ten million people worldwide, including Michael J. Fox, Billy Connolly, and Jeremy Paxman.
Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the area of the brain responsible for producing dopamine, which aids in body movement coordination.
It worsens over time as more cells die, leaving sufferers unable to complete day-to-day tasks.
However, as motor activity declines, so does the function of the vocal cords, diaphragm, and lungs, according to experts.
"Changes in speech often occur even earlier than motor function disorders," said Rytis Maskelinas, a data scientist at Kaunas University of Technology.
He went on to say that "this is why the altered speech could be the first sign of the disease."
Professor Virgilijus Ulozas, who was involved in the same study, stated that patients with early-stage Parkinson's may speak more quietly.
According to him, this can also be monotonous, less expressive, slower, and more fragmented, and is difficult to detect by ear.
Parkinson's disease affects approximately 145,000 people in the United Kingdom and 500,000 people in the United States, according to charities.
Symptoms such as muscle stiffness often do not appear until approximately 80% of the nerve cells have been lost.
However, no tests can definitively diagnose Parkinson's disease.
However, catching it early can help control the disease more quickly, according to top neurologists.
The Lithuanian team is now working to develop a method of detecting Parkinson's disease earlier, possibly through a mobile app.
According to Professor Maskelinas, the link between Parkinson's disease and speech abnormalities has been known since the 1960s, but technological advances have made it easier to investigate.
The researchers used AI to analyze speech samples from 61 Parkinson's patients and 43 healthy volunteers.
A microphone was used in a soundproof booth to record the speech of both groups.
To process the recordings and analyze any differences, an AI algorithm was used.
"We are not developing a replacement for a routine examination of the patient; our method is intended to facilitate early disease diagnosis and to track the effectiveness of treatment," the professor explained.
They intend to expand the study to see if this is the best way to detect Parkinson's disease early.
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