We believe that if youre a person who is going to develop Parkinsons, youll also score lower than others, Dr. Sethi says.
Based on the results of the smell test, study participants will be divided into two groups those with a normal sense of smell and those without. Both groups will undergo functional neuroimaging analyses at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven. Functional neuroimaging can identify changes in brain activity associated with Parkinsons.
Both also will be clinically examined by a movement disorder specialist and followed for three to five years.
We believe that a proportion of those who have the deteriorated sense of smell will develop Parkinsons over the next two or three years, Dr. Sethi says.
Study participants also will be asked about other common symptoms of the disease that may be present prior to the telltale motor symptoms. For example, people with Parkinsons and other neurological diseases often suffer from a sleep disorder called REM Behavior Disorder, which causes them to act out their dreams.
While most people are paralyzed when they dream so they cant hurt themselves or others, people with Parkinsons are not, Dr. Sethi says. They yell, scream and kick. No one knows why, but half of the people who have this sleep disorder will develop Parkinsons or a similar disease.
Questions about excessive daytime sleepiness and anxiety and constipation other pre-symptoms of Parkinsons also will be asked.
The goal is to give someone a degree of risk based on one or multiple factors, Dr. Sethi says. We dont know specific numbers now, but hopefully, in the future, we will be able to tell people who have a deteriorated sense of smell and the sleep disorder specifically how much their risk goes up.
The long-term goal, he says, is to develop prevention strategies once risk is established.
|Contact: Jennifer Hilliard|
Medical College of Georgia