An artificial intelligence tool can help people with Parkinson’s disease remotely assess the severity of their symptoms within minutes, a new study shows.
Using the tool, participants tap their fingers 10 times in front of a webcam to assess motor performance on a scale of 0–4.
Doctors often have patients perform simple motor tasks to assess movement disorders and rate the severity using guidelines such as the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS).
The new AI model provides a rapid assessment using the MDS-UPDRS guidelines, automatically generating computational metrics such as speed, amplitude, frequency, and period that are interpretable, standardized, repeatable, and consistent with medical guidebooks. It uses those attributes to classify the severity of tremors.
For the study, 250 global participants with Parkinson’s performed the finger-tapping task and the AI system’s ratings were compared with those by three neurologists and three primary care physicians. While expert neurologists performed slightly better than the AI model, the AI model outperformed the primary care physicians with UPDRS certification.
“These findings could have huge implications for patients who have difficulty gaining access to neurologists, getting appointments, and traveling to the hospital,” says Ehsan Hoque, an associate professor in the computer science department at the University of Rochester and co-director of the Rochester Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory.
“It’s an example of how AI is being gradually introduced into health care to serve people outside of the clinic and improve health equity and access.”
The new Parkinson’s disease assessment is available online, though the researchers caution that it reflects an emerging technology and at this early stage should not be considered, on its own and without a physician’s input, as a definitive measure of the presence or severity of the disease.
The study appears in the journal npj Digital Medicine.
Source: University of Rochester