The researchers pointed to the “first sign of the disease,” which “often” occurs before the loss of motor skills, such as tremors and muscle rigidity. According to Rytis Maskeliunas, along with his colleagues at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), “changes in speech” can be revealing. “Changes in speech often occur even before motor impairments,” Maskeliunas said.
“That’s why altered speech can be the first sign of illness.”
Professor Virgilijus Ulozas from the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Faculty of Medicine at LSMU noted that patients with early Parkinson’s disease can speak quietly.
Tone can be monotonous, less expressive, slower, and more fragmented, but it’s harder to hear.
Researcher Maskeliunas added: “We are not creating a replacement for routine patient examination.
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“Our method is designed to facilitate early diagnosis of the disease and track the effectiveness of treatment.”
Using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and evaluate speech signals, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be made in seconds.
In a soundproof booth, a microphone was used to record the speech of healthy and Parkinson’s patients.
Another participant in the study, lecturer Kypras Pribuishis, said: “At the moment, our approach allows us to distinguish people with Parkinson’s disease from healthy people using a speech pattern.”
Researcher Maskeliunas stated: “Our results … have a very high scientific potential.
“Of course, there is still a long and difficult way to go before it can be applied in everyday clinical practice.”
The research team hopes to increase their sample size to collect more data on whether the proposed AI algorithm is superior to alternative methods for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, it will be necessary to test whether the AI algorithm will work well in the doctor’s office or at the patient’s home, in addition to laboratory conditions.
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symptoms of parkinson’s disease
Leading charity Parkinson’s UK has highlighted the early signs of a neurodegenerative condition.
“Difficulties with sleep and night time are common in Parkinson’s disease,” the charity notes, adding that it can be caused by tremors, stiffness, pain, and restless leg syndrome.
Another possible sign of the condition is loss of smell, which can “begin years before other symptoms appear.”
Due to changes in the brain, a person with Parkinson’s disease may experience finer and finer handwriting.
This is because “People with Parkinson’s may find that their movements become smaller and less forceful than they used to be.”
There may be signs of an overactive bladder, requiring more frequent nighttime toilet visits and a sense of urgency.
A gradual loss of coordination or the achievement of a shuffling gait can be a clear sign of Parkinson’s disease.
In terms of speech changes, the LSMU study showed that as the disease progresses, voice changes may include hoarseness, stuttering, slurring, and loss of pauses between words.