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Reported December 17, 2012

Dial-A-Diagnosis? The Parkinson's Voice Initiative

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Tremors, trouble walking, stiff and achy muscles; there are many unmistakable signs of Parkinson’s.  Now, researchers are looking at another symptom that could help diagnose the disease with a phone call. 

"It's a learning experience every time,” Parkinson’s patient, Richard Bailey, told Ivanhoe.

“Yea, I didn’t know what was causing it,” Parkinson’s patient, David Akins, told Ivanhoe.

“We are discovering new things about how Parkinson’s affects the voice,” postdoctoral research fellow at MIT Media Lab, Dr. Max Little, told Ivanhoe.

MIT’S Dr. Max Little says in lab settings his team’s technology was able to detect the disease with 99-percent accuracy just by listening to their voice recordings.

“So we can tell the severity of the symptoms as well, yea,” Dr. Little said. 

“We were interested in this question whether or not this technology could be deployed over the telephone,” Dr. Little said. 

The Parkinson’s Voice Initiative is collecting phoned-in voices from around the world and measuring 130 features including breathiness, tremors, vocal pitch and tone.

“Not all of them are that easy to hear and that’s why you need precision algorithms in order to be able to pick these things out,” Dr. Little explained.

“To reduce the costs involved in doing for example mass-scale screening,” Dr. Little said.

He says it could also help doctors optimize drug timing and dosage by evaluating patients’ voice changes as their medications wear off throughout the day.

So far more than 18 thousand people from around the world, those with and without Parkinson’s, have shared their voices for the research.   All it takes is a three minute call.  Go to www.parkinson’  for the number you can call to take part.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Dial-A-Diagnosis?  The Parkinson's Voice Initiative

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Max Little

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at



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