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Welcome to Our Parkinson's Place


I copy news articles pertaining to research, news and information for Parkinson's disease, Dementia, the Brain, Depression and Parkinson's with Dystonia. I also post about Fundraising for Parkinson's disease and events. I try to be up-to-date as possible. I have Parkinson's
diseases as well and thought it would be nice to have a place where
updated news is in one place. That is why I began this blog.
I am not responsible for it's contents, I am just a copier of information searched on the computer. Please understand the copies are just that, copies and at times, I am unable to enlarge the wording or keep it uniformed as I wish. This is for you to read and to always keep an open mind.
Please discuss this with your doctor, should you have any questions, or concerns. Never do anything without talking to your doctor. I do not make any money from this website. I volunteer my time to help all of us to be informed. Please no advertisers. This is a free site for all.
Thank you.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Om power: Can yoga help offset Parkinson's symptoms?

By Allie Shah/Minneapolis Star Tribune September 3, 2016

Bonnie Olson participates in a yoga class for people with Parksinson's disease at Tarana Yoga Studio in Minneapolis. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

MINNEAPOLIS -- It took a while to get to downward-facing dog.
First, the eight men and women at a recent class at Tarana Yoga Studio in Minneapolis engaged in “joint warm-ups,” circling their wrists three times in each direction.
Next, they carefully moved into standing poses, keeping a chair at the edge of their yoga mats to steady themselves as needed.
Finally, their bodies limber, they tilted their hips back with hands and feet planted on the mat — expertly performing the challenging downward-facing dog pose.
The minutes ticked. No one flinched.
Held twice a week, the experimental class is part of a study being conducted by the University of Minnesota to find out if yoga is an effective tool for managing Parkinson’s disease.
Corjena Cheung, a professor at the university’s School of Nursing, said she hopes to build on her previous research examining yoga’s effects on osteoarthritis. The results of that study were so promising — increased mobility and less fear of falling — that she wanted to explore whether yoga could help with Parkinson’s, too.
Yoga is one of the leading alternative therapies used by Americans, according to a National Institutes of Health survey on alternative medicine use.
Cheung’s work would add to a growing body of science on the popular practice’s impact on Parkinson’s disease — a degenerative brain disorder involving the nerve cells responsible for voluntary movement. The condition is diagnosed in about 60,000 Americans a year. Tremors, a shuffling walk, muscle stiffness, depression and dementia are among the symptoms.
The focus on yoga as a possible therapy for Parkinson’s stems from its gentleness and its emphasis on breathing, strength and flexibility.
A Kansas University Medical Center study found a visible reduction in tremoring and improvement in the steadiness of gait in people who participated in yoga sessions, according to the American Parkinson Disease Association. In her osteoarthritis and yoga study, Cheung found that participants were better able to cope with their symptoms by doing yoga rather than aerobic strength exercises.

Eager volunteers

For this study, she recruited participants through local support groups for people with Parkinson’s. It was an easy pitch.
“People are very motivated,” she said.
There are 20 people involved in the study. Half of them were told to make no change in the way they manage their symptoms. The others are doing yoga. Cheung will measure their stress levels by giving them a blood test and checking for the presence of certain stress hormones. She also will examine their motor functions, checking their range of motion, stride length, balance and gait.
Five yoga experts who had experience teaching yoga to people with physical limitations helped design the hourlong classes, which will go on for six months. Cheung said she suspects that by the end of the experiment, the results will show that yoga improves motor function and reduces stress for people with Parkinson’s.
But for now, all she knows for sure is that the participants seem to be enjoying themselves.
“The fact that yoga includes both physical as well as the breathing and relaxation piece, I think that has added benefits for people with Parkinson’s,” she said. “They are suffering from not only the physical limitations. Yoga teaches them how to cope with the disease and work with what they have and build on it.”
The classes start out with slow, basic exercises done sitting, standing or lying down. Gradually, the participants build up to more difficult exercises and poses. In addition to the usual yoga props of a mat and block, there are chairs to help maintain balance and small sandbags to help control hand tremors.
“They can use the prop to help them get to where the ideal pose is for them,” Cheung said, adding that she’s heard that some of the people are now doing yoga at home, too.

Exercising optimism

Although the study won’t wrap up until December, the participants have reached their own conclusions about yoga therapy.
Jerri Smith is encouraged. The 58-year-old St. Paul, Minn., woman is new to yoga but not to Parkinson’s. She was diagnosed with the disease six years ago.
She said she agreed to participate in the study because she wanted to see whether yoga would help her symptoms.
“It’s good to calm my mind down,” she said. “Also, I have a lot of muscle~ cramps and spasms. My back is really stiff.”
After a session last week, she reported that her muscles no longer feel so tight.
Bob McGonigal, 72, balanced on one leg and bent the other to form a Figure 4. He held the pose, standing perfectly still.
“That’s called the ‘tree pose,’ ” he said. “When we first started, I couldn’t do that.”
He, too, came to the study in search of alternative ways to manage his Parkinson’s. The Bloomington man was diagnosed in 2010 and has tremors in his forearms and upper arms.
Steve Knudsen, 69, of Burnsville, Minn., said he’s found that his body is more flexible after an hour of yoga. Recently, he left class and noticed that he didn’t need to take his medications for Parkinson’s for an hour because he felt so good.
“There are a lot of possibilities with this,” he said.
http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2016/sep/03/om-power-can-yoga-help-offset-parkinsons-symptoms/

Parkinson Disease Symposium Oct. 13

Sept. 1, 2016


Therapists Sara Edlebeck, left, and Ashley


IRON MOUNTAIN - The Parkinson Society of Dickinson County, a support group for Parkinson Disease patients, caregivers, family and friends, will host a Parkinson Disease Symposium "Living With Parkinson's Disease" on Oct. 13, at the First Presbyterian Church in Kingsford.
The symposium will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a free lunch break at noon.
Speakers at this symposium include Dr. Patti Peterson, local neurologist, speaking on "Problems that PD patients have that are not motor, and the differential of diagnosis."
Also presenting at this program is Sara Krueger of Royal Oak, Mich., speaking on "Getting to Know Duopa."
The keynote speaker comes from Lubbock, Texas, Jo Bidwell, giving her morning talk on "Understanding Parkinson's Disease." Then, doing a working lunch, Bidwell will have a question and answer time as well as presenting "What's New and Coming in the Future for PD Patients." Her afternoon presentation will be geared toward caregivers, "Caring for the Caregivers."
Bidwell has a bachelor of science degree in counseling and a M.ED. in health education. She was the information and referral coordinator for the Lubbock office of the American Parkinson's Disease Association (APDA) for 17 years, and for the last two years has been the director fo Southwest Parkinson Society, covering large portion of Texas and New Mexico. She has taught nutrition and has been the neurology educator for Covenant Health System,w hile doing the APDA job. She has a very large Parkinson Disease family encompassing a large portion of Texas and New Mexico.
Invitations have been extended to PD patients through the U.P. and Northern Wisconsin through their local support groups in Calumet, Negaunee and Marquette County, Escanaba, Ironwood, Newberry and including the Dickinson County area. It is not necessary to belong to a support group to attend. Any Parkinson Disease patient that is interested may attend.
Displays and personnel from health related agencies will be available to provide information and material of interest to attendees. A light continental breakfast will be available upon arrival and a more substantial lunch will be provided free of charge at noon. This is due to the group sponsors.
Registration must be made by Oct. 6, by calling Claire Kennedy at 906-295-0898 or Pauline Hill at 906-774-0332. Persons can also mail registrations to Claire Kennedy at P.O. Box 126, Hermansville, MI 49847.
Walk-ins may be accommodated, depending on space and amount of food.
"Understanding that the day may be long and tiring for some, a quiet room will be available for those who may need a little break for rest time during the day," said Hill symposium coordinator.
Persons may also contact Hill for more information on the symposium. The church is located on Hamilton Avenue in Kingsford.
http://www.ironmountaindailynews.com/page/content.detail/id/578184/Parkinson-Disease-Symposium-Oct--13.html?nav=5066

Friday, September 2, 2016

Living With Dementia: Life Story Work Proves Successful

NEUROSCIENCE NEWS
Summary: Researchers report recording their life story has the potential to help people with dementia.


Source: University of York.

The study concluded that life story work has the potential to help people with dementia, but a full scale evaluation is needed. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

A pioneering study led by researchers at the University of York’s Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) shows that life story work has the potential to help people with dementia.

Life story work involves helping people to record aspects of their past and present lives along with future hopes and wishes, often in a book or folder or, increasingly, in music, film and multi-media formats.
The study found that many health and social care services in England now use life story work, but the ways in which they do this vary considerably.
Researchers compiled evidence on life story work in dementia care through a systematic literature review, in addition to listening first-hand to views of people with dementia, family carers and professionals through a series of focus groups.

Conducting a national survey of family carers and dementia service providers, along with an in-depth analysis of life story work in six care homes and four hospital wards, researchers tested the feasibility of doing a full scale evaluation of life story work in these settings.

The study concluded that life story work has the potential to help people with dementia, but a full scale evaluation is needed.

Kate Gridley, Research Fellow in York’s SPRU and Lead Researcher on the study, said: “People with dementia and their family carers have played a pivotal role in identifying nine key features of good practice in life story work. This includes not assuming that a person wants to do life story work, and respecting the person’s wishes about what goes into their life story and who will see it. However, these good practice approaches were not always followed.

“The study identified some improvements in staff attitudes towards people with dementia in care homes where they introduced life story work, and improvements in quality of life for some of the people with dementia, although the numbers were small.
“The cost of delivering life story work is relatively low, and staff felt that doing life story work encouraged interactions with family, and helped staff to get to know the person with dementia.”
The involvement of people with dementia and their carers was crucial to the study. A network of advisers informed the project design and interpretation of findings. Research partners included Dementia UK, Innovations in Dementia CIC, the Life Story Network CIC, Anchor Trust, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, the University of York Department of Health Sciences, the Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull.
ABOUT THIS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RESEARCH ARTICLE
Funding: The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery (NIHR HS&DR) Programme.
Source: Samantha Martin – University of York 
Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

http://neurosciencenews.com/dementia-life-story-4955/

Trial to Address Parkinson's Disease Dementia Recruiting Participants

Posted by  Loren DeVito, PhD,  
A Phase II trial evaluating a novel therapy to treat Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD) is actively recruiting in the United States. The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is funding the SYNAPSE trial, which is sponsored by Biotie Therapies, Inc. and conducted by the Parkinson Study Group.
Individuals with Parkinson's disease dementia experience symptoms of cognitive impairment, an umbrella term that includes slowness of thinking and difficulty with organizing one's thoughts, as well as memory loss and dementia.
The new compound in testing, SYN120, may address cognitive function by blocking the effects of serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that affects cognition. SYN120 is being tested in a 16-week proof of concept study (“SYN120 a Dual 5-HT6/5-HT2A Antagonist Proof of Concept Study to Evaluate Its Safety, Tolerability and Efficacy in Parkinson's Disease Dementia”), known as the SYNAPSE trial. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of this compound in individuals with Parkinson's disease dementia. So far, the SYNAPSE trial has enrolled 47 participants across 20 sites, with a recruitment goal of 80 participants in total.
Chris Kenney, MD, senior vice president of clinical development, and Karen Cravotto, clinical program manager, at Biotie Therapies, Inc., spoke to MJFF about the trial and answered some questions about this new potential therapy.
MJFF: Congratulations on advancing this compound to Phase II testing. Can you tell us more about SYN120 and why it may be effective in treating Parkinson's disease dementia?
CK: Compounds that target the serotonin system have the potential to help patients with Parkinson's disease dementia. Based on preclinical evidence, we identified SYN120 as a promising compound and, with support from the Foundation, worked to advance this compound into clinical testing.
MJFF: What kinds of participants are you looking to enroll in this trial?
KC: We are looking to enroll individuals with Parkinson's disease dementia who are taking a stable cholinesterase inhibitor (for example, Exelon). Interested participants must also have a routine caregiver who can complete questionnaires and assist with transportation to site visits. Individuals with a history of any neurologic or psychiatric disease other than Parkinson's or any other condition or symptoms that would interfere with the trial (e.g., unpredictable motor fluctuations) will not be able to take part in the trial.
MJFF: Can you describe the type of participation required for this trial, and what the experience may be like?
KC: Those interested should expect a greater time commitment at the beginning of the trial. The baseline visit may take 6 to 9 hours; however, some sites allow participants to split the time across two days and will cover the cost of a hotel to reduce travel burden. After the screening and baseline visit, there will be a mix of phone (2) and on-site (3) visits, which will likely be less time-intensive. The last visit will occur two weeks after the end of the trial (at 18 weeks) to follow-up on drug safety.
MJFF: How will you evaluate the safety and efficacy of SYN120 in this trial?
CK: Participants will engage in computerized assessments of attention, working memory and decision-making skills to help determine the effect of this compound on cognition. We will evaluate safety and tolerability with a complete evaluation including blood tests and measures of heart activity. The first dose of SYN120 will be taken at the study site in order to monitor any immediate effects.
MJFF: Thanks for speaking with us. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
CK/KC: The study participant retention rate has been higher than we anticipated. Although there is a greater time commitment at the beginning of the trial, most participants have been able to attend all study visits and complete the trial.
https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?trial-to-address-parkinson-disease-dementia-recruiting-participants 

Community Home Support aids people with Parkinson’s Disease through new program

Sept. 2, 2016

Delaying the disease

Submitted photo
Community Home Support Lanark County is offering a Delay the Disease fitness program designed for those with Parkinson’s Disease. The program is held each Tuesday from 2 to 3 p.m. Above, Christine Luscombe-Mills, left, a retired occupational therapist and Delay the Disease instructor, Suzanne Bourbonnais, middle, client services manager with Community Home Support Lanark County, Perth office, and Ashley Pelton, registered occupational therapist and Delay the Disease instructor.

Don’t be surprised to hear some yelling if you drop by the Community Home Support Lanark County office in Perth on a Tuesday afternoon.
The Delay the Disease program is in session from 2 to 3 p.m. that day and incorporating voice projection during exercises is one component of the fitness program designed for those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
Pioneered in Ohio, this program differs from others for those suffering from Parkinson’s, according to lead instructor Nancy McFadyen of OT Ontario East in Smiths Falls, in that it targets specific PD symptoms. These symptoms run the gamut from speech problems to impaired posture to a deterioration in hand writing to decreased movement, to list a few.
“It’s not just physical exercise,” McFadyen who has more than 30 years of experience as an occupational therapist (OT) says of the program. “It is cognitive multi-tasking.”
When people are diagnosed with PD, as she explains, between 70 and 75 per cent of the dopamine in their brains is depleted. 
“It is a gradual decline,” McFadyen notes. “In the process, they are developing bad habits like poor posture, low voice and decreased movement.”
During the 12-week program, the focus is on getting them to change these habits. That is done through a variety of physical and cognitive exercises that work towards retraining the body and mind. For example, one exercise involves participants holding weights, in which they bend down as far as they can and then stand up. In another, they walk between two lines taking big steps in the process and they are asked to count the steps. 
“One of the things about Parkinson’s is that movements get smaller and more restrictive,” Christine Luscombe-Mills, a retired OT who assists with the program, says in explaining the importance of the latter exercise. “Part of what we are doing is encouraging people to get in the habit of taking big steps to break the patterns of the small movements.” 
This is the first time the Delay the Disease program has been offered in Canada with McFadyen, along with Ashley Pelton, another occupational therapist on her staff, and Luscombe-Mills having already obtained their certification. Just this month two more people, Allie Palmar and Pam Watts have been certified to lead the program.
All exercises are modified according to a participant’s needs. “In this group, we can scale it up or scale it back,” McFadyen states, adding that the content changes slightly each week.
Cardiovascular exercise is a component of the Delay the Disease program. “The brain is more receptive to change when the body is physically primed and activated by exercise,” says McFadyen. “The exercises in the Delay the Disease program are directed at facilitating change utilizing the neuroplasticity of the brain.”
Pre and post-testing is done in the program to evaluate each participant’s level of functional improvement.
McFadyen is appreciative of Community Home Support for its support of Delay the Disease through providing the venue for the weekly sessions. Likewise, Chartwell Willowdale Retirement Centre in Smiths Falls has offered space for the program on Fridays.
According to the results of a study conducted by the Department of Neurology and Center for Biostatistics at Ohio State University, in conjunction with Columbus Health Works, early participation in a group exercise program with a format like Delay the Disease “had a significant effect on symptoms of depression” for those with Parkinson’s.
The cost for the program, which includes 12 one-hour sessions, is $449 per person. Anyone interesting in registering and/or receiving more information is encouraged to contact OT Ontario East at 613-283-2788 or email ot.nancy.mcfadyen@cogeco.ca.
Community Home Support Lanark County hosts a monthly support group for people living with Parkinson Disease and their care partners/family. The support group provides a safe, friendly environment in which to share experiences and knowledge with others living with Parkinson's Disease. The support group meets the last Monday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at the Community Home Support Lanark County office at 40 Sunset Blvd in Perth. On Sept. 26, there will be a demonstration of a Delay the Disease class at the monthly support group. Audience members will have a chance to participate in the exercises. There is no sign-up required for participating or observing the demonstration. The support group will run as scheduled between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Light refreshments are served. 
For more information regarding the monthly support group, please contact Melissa at 613-267-6400. 
Submitted by Community Home Support Lanark County
http://www.insideottawavalley.com/community-story/6838009-community-home-support-aids-people-with-parkinson-s-disease-through-new-program/

Walking for a Cure

Sept. 2, 2016

PJ Burns and wife, Kim, who he calls his “care warrior,” will be participating in the Parkinson’s SuperWalk at Douglas Park on Sunday, Sept. 11.
— Image Credit: Submitted Photo

At the heart of the success of the Parkinson’s SuperWalk are its participants, including PJ Burns of Langley.
Burns is a 54-year-old university instructor whose hobbies include triathlons, distance running, swimming, kayaking and yoga.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s just over a year ago, and Parkinson’s Society of BC has been a source of information and resources for him since day one.
BEING DIAGNOSED
Immediately after Burns’  diagnosis, he called the society. Three days later, he received a package full of vital information.
"I hold the Parkinson Society of BC in high regard. The information they provide in print and in electronic form is excellent as are the seminars they stage," said Burns. "The single most important service that PSBC offered for me was counselling. Counselling helped me get past the initial shock of my diagnosis and encouraged me to live in the present while regarding the future with hope."
Since his diagnosis, he has been supported by an encouraging group of friends and family.
HIS WIFE IS HIS 'CARE WARRIOR'
His wife, Kim, has demonstrated fierce devotion to his well-being — Burns calls her his “care warrior.”
He continues to stay physical active.
"Research suggests that regular and intense physical activity helps people with Parkinson's maintain the ability to move and may even slow the disease progression," said Burns. "As a result, the day after my diagnosis my wife Kim cleaned out our garage and turned it into a home gym; complete with stationary bike, free weights, boxing gloves, and an assortment of other workout gear."
He also continues to run, just slower. He does Tai Chi, yoga and works on recovering his normal walking gait which has been impacted.
"Walking that was previously automatic is something I now have to think about."
ADVICE FOR NEWLY DIAGNOSED
His advice to those who have been newly diagnosed is get out, be active and remain social.
"Workout in a group or with a friend. Do what motivates you to be active. Then be an advocate and help raise awareness of PD. Parkinson's Disease is not a disease confined to the elderly it affects young people as well."
Every year, thousands of British Columbians participate in the Parkinson SuperWalk. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the event taking place in British Columbia, with over 20 communities participating Sunday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. at Douglas Park Recreation Centre in Langley City.
Registered walkers will exercise their superpowers by generating awareness of the disease and helping to raise funds for valuable education, resources, support services and research.
The society receives no government funding and relies heavily on this walk to fund all of its services.
You can help make a difference by joining the community heroes on Sunday, Sept. 11. To donate, or register, go to
SuperWalkBC.kintera.org or call 1-800-668-3330.

The Facts:
Over 13,300 British Columbians have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and due to the increase in the aging population, the number of Canadians over 40 living with Parkinson’s is expected to rise by as much as 65 percent by 2031.
Parkinson’s not only affects those with the disease, it also affects family members and care partners. It is the second most common neuro-degenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.
http://www.langleytimes.com/community/392083441.html

Key mechanism behind brain connectivity and memory revealed

Sept. 2, 2016

Schematic of mice with dysfunctional and functional Wnt signaling. Credit: University College London


Memory loss in mice has been successfully reversed following the discovery of new information about a key mechanism underlying the loss of nerve connectivity in the brain, say UCL researchers.
Published today in Current Biology, the study funded by Alzheimer's Research UK, Parkinson's UK, Wellcome, MRC and the EU investigated the mechanism driving communication breakdown in adult brains – specifically, the loss of connections between nerve cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls learning and memory. The team found Wnt proteins play a key role in the maintenance of nerve connectivity in the adult brain and could become targets for new treatments that prevent and restore brain function in neurodegenerative diseases.

The breakdown of connections between nerve cells is an early feature of diseases like Alzheimer's and is known to cause distressing symptoms like memory and thinking decline, but the biological processes behind it are poorly understood. Nerve cells are connected at communication points called
synapses and the slow degeneration of these connections is an important area of study for researchers looking to slow or stop Alzheimer's disease.

Lead author, Professor Patricia Salinas (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), said: "Synapses are absolutely critical to everything that our brains do. When these important communication points are lost, nerve cells cannot exchange information and this leads to symptoms like memory and thinking problems. The Wnt pathway is emerging as a key player in the regulation of the formation, maintenance and function of synapses, and we have provided strong evidence that the Wnt proteins are also critical for memory.

"Understanding the role of Wnts in Alzheimer's disease is an important next step, as there is potential we could target this chain of events with drugs. Preventing or reversing the disruptions in connectivity and communication between nerve cells in Alzheimer's would be a huge step forward."

Increasing evidence suggests that deficiency in Wnt function contributes to disruption of brain connectivity in Alzheimer's disease and therefore resulting in memory loss. The team studied the impact of a protein called Dkk1, known to block the action of Wnts and found at higher levels in people with Alzheimer's, in brain circuits and memory.

Genetically modified mice in which Dkk1 can be switched on, disrupting the action of Wnts and its downstream chain of events were used. To avoid any disruption to normal brain development driven by Wnts and Dkk1, the researchers waited until the mice were adults before switching on Dkk1 in an area of the brain important for the formation of new memories.

When Dkk1 was switched on in the adult mice, the researchers found the mice had memory problems, and that this coincided with the presence of fewer synapses between nerve cells, indicating a communication breakdown. However, when the researchers switched Dkk1 back off, the mice no longer had memory problems, the number of synapses increased back to normal levels and brain circuits were restored.

Dr Simon Ridley, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This study in mice adds further weight to a growing body of evidence implicating Wnts and its related proteins to nerve cell connectivity and memory. By understanding mechanisms driving healthy nerve cells, we can best unpick what happens when these processes go so wrong.

"This research sets a solid foundation for future work to explore the role of Wnts in diseases like Alzheimer's, and this biological process is already a key target being explored by expert teams in the Alzheimer's Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance. Researchers are taking huge steps forward in their understanding of what happens in the brain in health and disease, and we must now capitalise on these discoveries to deliver effective treatments that can transform lives."

Journal reference: Current Biology

Provided by: University College London 

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-key-mechanism-brain-memory-revealed.html

Virtually reality simplifies early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease

September 2, 2016


Ivan Tolmachov demonstrates the diagnosis system. Credit: Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and Siberian State Medical University are developing an early diagnosis system for neurodegenerative disorders. The system is intended for such diseases as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and others. 

The diagnosis system is based on virtual reality (VR) – a patient is immersed in a virtual environment to carry out some functional tests. Researchers vary the parameters of the virtual environment and record changes in the person's movements. The scientists expect to complete the technical part of the project in 2017.

The diagnosis system for  is a joint project for scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and Siberian State Medical University. The project involves eight people – scientists, postgraduate and graduate students of the universities.
The system being developed by TPU and SSMU scientists consists of , a non-contact sensor controller and a mobile platform.
The developers use existing devices such as Google augmented glasses and Kinect sensor system. Diagnosis is as follows: A person puts the glasses on and enters a  with an adjustable slope. The motion sensor detects changes in posture. A person without disorders quickly adapts to the  and keeps a stable position; a person with disorders can't adapt and loses balance.
"We have integrated existing devices and developed mathematical models for data analysis. We have also created a human skeleton model, identified 20 important points that Kinect monitors. Diagnosis provides results of deviations in the 20 points," says David Khachaturyan, a scientist from TPU. 
The system has been already tested by about 50 volunteers.
"In the experiment, we tested how VR influences people. The procedure took almost 10 minutes. The experiment engaged both healthy people and those whom doctors had already diagnosed. Currently, we can't say if a person is healthy or not, or make a diagnosis. But thanks to the system, we can say how much a patient's condition differs from a healthy person's. We have also found out how people with different diseases react to a virtual environment. For instance, people with Parkinson's disease exhibit hand tremors," says Ivan Tolmachov.
To complete the technical part of the project will take one more year. Then the system will pass clinical trials and required technical and toxicological certification.
"In the future, the system will be used not only for disease diagnosis but for patient rehabilitation as well," adds the scientist.
"Our sense of balance and our movement are controlled with a number of systems. This is the vestibular apparatus – the inner ear and semicircular ducts – which determines our position in space and the direction of gravity. This also involves the muscular system and vision. All these coordinated systems operate automatically. They falter if a person gets a neurodegenerative disease like, for example, Parkinson's disease," says Ivan Tolmachov, senior instructor at the TPU Department of Industrial and Medical Electronics, associate professor at SSMU.
According to the scientists, in the case of Parkinson's disease, the cell death process can start at age of 30, but the symptoms of the disease will be noticeable only at 50.
Therefore, scientists around the world are seeking effective and affordable  methods for neurodegenerative diseases.
"To feel a functional loss, a person should lose about 80 percent of related cells. But at that point, there is no path to recovery. Therefore, it is important to diagnosis the disease at earlier stages, when patient can still get help. Currently, physicians use pencil-and-paper tests to detect neurodegenerative diseases, but they are mostly based on visual assessment, and there is lack of instrumental and effective methods. PET scanning is available only in nine cities in Russia," says Ivan Tolmachov.
More information: Ivan Tolmachev et al. Sensory Dissociation in Vestibular Function Assessment, MATEC Web of Conferences (2016). DOI: 10.1051/matecconf/20164805005 

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