A prototype is currently being trialled as part of a £1.4M European research project called DiPAR, which is led by MANUS and secured funding with help from Enterprise Europe Network North East at The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).
MANUS Neurodynamica Ltd’s sensory pen and software, analyses the control of motion in the nervous systems of patients, concentrating on upper limb and hand activity.
By comparing patients’ handwriting patterns to those of healthy subjects, the technology could help to determine if an individual is suffering from Parkinson’s, or another neurological disorder.
Dr. Rutger Zietsma, director of MANUS and Technical Coordinator for DiPAR said: “The trials to date have showed clear differences between healthy controls and Parkinson’s sufferers.
“For instance, Parkinson’s sufferers move more slowly in tasks and their writing is significantly smaller.
“By providing clinicians with an easy-to-use tool for earlier diagnosis, one that can also distinguish between differing neurological disorders and that gives the neurologist a probability for each of the different impairments, we hope to improve patient monitoring.
“This will provide the best possible patient outcome and will help patients and carers to plan for the future.
“Although there is currently no cure, there are neuroprotective therapies in development and an early intervention will significantly improve patient care in the future, as regenerative treatment becomes available.”
The visible symptoms of Parkinson’s are often only displayed up to seven years after the disease has developed, making it difficult to achieve a clear diagnosis before significant deterioration of motor function has taken place.