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Increased arm swing asymmetry is early sign of Parkinson's disease
Date:12/13/2011

rly Parkinson's disease patients. According to Joseph Cusumano, professor of engineering science and mechanics, the lower cross-correlation and reduced synchronization suggest that the arm movements are poorly coordinated.

"In other words, if I measure the location of your right arm, it is difficult to use that measurement to predict the location of your left arm," he said. "It is well known that Parkinson's disease has an impact on how people move -- neurologists have been using this fact as the basis for clinical examinations for a very, very long time -- but here we are for the first time precisely quantifying how the disease not only affects the relative amount of limb movements, but also how well coordinated in time these movements are."

To diagnose patients with Parkinson's disease early, some doctors and scientists have proposed the use of a smell test, because people with the disease lose their ability to distinguish odors, according to Xuemei Huang, movement disorders physician, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "But conditions other than Parkinson's disease also can affect a person's ability to smell," she said.

The Penn State team's method of evaluating arm swing can be applied quickly and inexpensively by primary care physicians in their own offices when the smell test is inconclusive and before the application of an expensive brain scan.

"Measuring arm swing asymmetry and coordination with our method may be the cheapest and most effective way to detect Parkinson's disease early in patients' lives when it still is possible to treat the symptoms of the disease and to improve longevity," said Piazza.

The scientists plan to further investigate whether the arm swing evaluation in combination with a smell test can enhance early diagnosis even more. They also plan to further develop their technique so that the accelerometers give immediate readings, which, they said, would save the extra step of downlo
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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