AI can detect Parkinson’s disease earlier from voice data

Credit: Matt Botsford / Unsplash

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. There is no cure, but if symptoms are noticed early, the disease can be controlled.

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, along with other symptoms speech changes.

In a study from the Kaunas University of Technology and elsewhere, scientists found early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease using voice data.

Parkinson’s disease is usually associated with loss of motor function—hand tremors, muscle stiffness, or balance problems.

As motor activity decreases, so does the function of the vocal cords, diaphragm, and lungs.

Changes in speech often occur even earlier than motor function disorders, which is why altered speech might be the first sign of the disease.

Researchers suggest that patients with early-stage of Parkinson’s disease, might speak in a quieter manner, which can also be monotonous, less expressive, slower, and more fragmented, and this is very difficult to notice by ear.

As the disease progresses, hoarseness, stuttering, slurred pronunciation of words, and loss of pauses between words can become more apparent.

Taking these symptoms into account, the researchers have developed a system to detect the disease earlier.

In their study, the researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and assess speech signals, where calculations are done and diagnoses made in seconds rather than hours.

This study is also unique—the results are tailored to the specifics of the Lithuanian language, in this way expanding the AI language database.

So far, the new approach is able to distinguish Parkinson’s from healthy people using a speech sample. This algorithm is also more accurate than previously proposed.

According to the researcher, the next steps include increasing the number of patients to gather more data and determining whether the proposed algorithm is superior to alternative methods used for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

In addition, it will be necessary to check whether the algorithm works well not only in laboratory-like environments but also in the doctor’s office or in the patient’s home.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about foods that may reduce death risk in Parkinson’s disease, and new drugs show promise in slowing down Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about Parkinson’s disease, please see recent studies about Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease and results showing that MIND and Mediterranean diets could help delay Parkinson’s Disease.

The study was conducted by researcher Maskeliūnas et al and published in Applied Sciences.

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