- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
PARKINSON'S DISEASE: New Early Symptoms Test
Discover the new test for Parkinson's symptoms: accurately detects signs of Parkinson's disease before noticeable symptoms develop and evaluates PD treatment.
Do I have Parkinson's Disease? Up until a few months ago, this was not an easy diagnosis for a physician to make because there was no test for Parkinson's disease (PD). Now there is. In just a few minutes, PD can be diagnosed with 97.5% accuracy.
Heretofore, patients presented at their physician's offices when they experienced troubling symptoms of the disease – usually a hand tremor.
Popular film and television star Michael J. Fox woke up one morning with an uncontrollable twitching of his finger.
Writing of his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease in his book,Lucky Man: A Memoir, Fox recalls:
Michael J. Fox has raised over $400 million for research to cure PD through his Michael J. Fox Foundation. He has become the human face of the illness, so much so that Parkinson's is sometimes referred to as the Michael J. Fox disease.
Go read Chapter I of this best-seller online.
"I woke up to find the message in my left hand. It had me trembling. It wasn't a fax, telegram, memo, or the usual sort of missive bringing disturbing news. In fact, my hand held nothing at all. The trembling was the message...That's when I noticed my pinkie. It was trembling, twitching, auto-animated. How long this had been going on I wasn't exactly sure. But now that I noticed it, I was surprised to discover that I couldn't stop it."
Michael J. Fox was only 30 years old when he had this first, noticeable symptom in 1990. He wouldn't receive the PD diagnosis until a year later. When he was given the results, he was told that he probably had developed the illness a decade earlier.
As an actor, Fox was subjected to frequent, thorough medical examinations in accordance with the business insurance necessary for movie and television productions. How could he have this disease for more than ten years without any physical checkup revealing it? And why did it take more than a year to receive the correct diagnosis?
Fox's experience is the typical scenario for PD sufferers. When a patient notices Parkinson's symptoms for the first time, he is already in the advanced stages of the illness.
The patient's doctor then orders a battery of tests which are not part of routine physicals. These are not tests specifically for PD; in fact, they are tests which only rule out other diseases which might cause similar symptoms. When all other conditions and illnesses are ruled out, Parkinson's is the diagnosis.
According to the European Magnetic Resonance Forum, there are only 25,000 MRI scanners in use for medical tests in the entire world!
Photo Credit: Jan Ainali, CC by 3.0
Tests almost always include X-ray CT (computed tomography) scans which use ionizing radiation and can damage DNA. Another common test is the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which can cause problems for some patients.
Some doctors will recommend PET (positron emission tomography) or SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography); both of these tests expose the patient to radiation and possible DNA mutation. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, the PET and SPECT scans are difficult to interpret for PD and can result in a missed diagnosis.
These preliminary tests cost thousands of dollars, must be scheduled well in advance, are not available in every location, and come with risks.
Some doctors diagnose PD by prescribing standard medication for the disease and evaluating the response in the patient's symptoms. If a patient in fact has the disease, use of certain drugs prematurely can lessen their effectiveness as the disease progresses.
All of these experiences have left patients and medical professionals urgently seeking better diagnostic tools.
Test for Early Parkinson's Symptoms
A revolutionary new test has been developed by Dr. Sara Rosenblum, Associate Professor, Ph.D., of Israel's Haifa University Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences. The test detects early Parkinson's symptoms not visibly observable and confirms a diagnosis long before the traditional symptoms of the disease develop. The test, called ComPET, is:
● completely safe
● 97.5% accurate
Does this test sound too good to be true? Read on:
● It can be administered by any trained professional, not just doctors.
● It uses small and inexpensive computer devises.
● It can be administered to children carrying the genetic marker which indicates an inherited susceptibility to the disease.
● It can easily be used on large populations exposed to pesticides. (A link between pesticides and some cases of Parkinson's has been confirmed.)
This test not only pinpoints PD at its earliest presence, but its continued use can measure the progression of the disease in individual patients and the effectiveness of treatments prescribed.
Dopamine Levels in the Brain and Parkinson's Early Symptoms
Daughter of PD sufferer Muhammad Ali, Maryum Ali, discusses dopamine production and early visible Parkinson's symptoms with Dr.Travis Stork in this video:
The brain is the mission-control center for the body.
Because PD is a neurodegenerative disease, the new ComPET test targets the state of brain health as it sends messages which translate to a patient's hand movements. The brain sends these messages through cells called neurons. When neurons are damaged or die, the body is deprived of dopamine which is produced by these neurons. Dopamine is the actual chemical transmitter that communicates from the brain to control the body's physical movements.
Dr. Rosenblum's test for Parkinson's follows many she has developed for other illnesses and conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Depression, Alzheimer, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD), and Dysgraphia.
Signs of Parkinson's Disease
The ComPET brand name stands for Computerized Penmanship Evaluation Tool and it analyzes a patient's handwriting as he completes assigned tasks requiring cognitive skills.
According the U.S. patent application, Rosenblum's tests analyze:
"...total length of writing on paper, stroke height, stroke width, stroke length, speed of writing, acceleration of writing, length of time the writing instrument stays in the air, length of time the writing instrument stays in on paper, the trajectory of the writing instrument in the air, pen tilt, azimuth, coefficient of variance, peak velocity, the pressure applied while writing or any combination thereof."
Specific variances from the normal, control group, in any of these attributes of handwriting are signs of Parkinson's disease.
The test uses a writing pen equipped with sensors and the patient writes on a special electronic tablet positioned under ordinary paper. The analysis is computer-generated.
Dr. Ilana Schlesinger, head of the Center for Movement Disorders and Parkinson’s Disease at Israel's Rambam Medical Center, conducted research using the ComPET test. The findings were published in the Journal of the European Neurological Society in September, 2013.
“This study is a breakthrough toward an objective diagnosis of the disease,” she says.
"We try to make the diagnosis nowadays by touching the patient, seeing if they are rigid, experiencing a tremor, if they are slow. We don't have a diagnostic tool. We don't have a blood test. We don't have tools in order to diagnose the disease. So, now we have a tool that maybe we can diagnose the patients earlier and start treating them before they have the major symptoms. It's very important to diagnose this disease early."
This 400-page guide covers all treatments and every Parkinson's patient should have this reference. Click to look inside contents.
Parkinson's Disease Treatment
The test accurately measures hand movement symptoms years before tremors begin. Parkinson's disease treatment can begin immediately upon receiving the test results.
Early treatment can greatly extend a patient's quality of life in the short-term and in the long-term.
"The symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) are very treatable. This is a condition where the physician can make a huge difference in the lives of patients. Although not all symptoms can be adequately controlled, optimum medical treatment can often keep PD patients in the mainstreams of their lives for many years."
– Dr. J. Erie Ahlskog, Ph.D., M.D., is the author of the book featured at the right and has treated Parkinson's patients for more than 25 years at the Mayo Clinic.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson's, this medical ID bracelet can insure proper treatment in an emergency.
With early diagnosis, a patient can also improve his future prognosis with immediate changes in diet, lifestyle and environment.
He can be cautioned about substances to avoid, including medications for other conditions which might adversely affect Parkinson's.
He can be prepared to experience other symptoms and be equipped with the knowledge to properly address them. For instance, many Parkinson's patients recall a time of brain fog, confusion or unexplained depression before actual body tremors developed.
An early diagnosis will alert a patient so that he will recognize the symptoms of the disease and not try to self-medicate, which can actually make his disease worse. For example, Michael J. Fox admits to drinking too much before his tremors started. That is just one way people respond when dopamine levels diminish.
According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation,
"As many as 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease"
This is more than the number of people with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig's disease – combined.
Doctor's can continually monitor the effectiveness of a patient's treatment and the progression of the disease by using the ComPET test.
Of significant importance, this test can be used to analyze the effectiveness of new pharmaceuticals under development.
Someday, hopefully, ComPET will be used to test the cure.
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