Parkinson's diagnosis over the phone - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Parkinson's diagnosis over the phone

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(09/14/12) - Imagine being told you have a devastating disease, then finding out your doctor was wrong. Up to 30 percent of Parkinson's disease cases are mis-diagnosed. Now, two very different tools are aimed at preventing the mistakes.

His brother and sister have it, so Lane Scott wasn't surprised when his doctor said the disease had hit him too. "He said, 'I do believe you have Parkinson's.'"

But months later, Lane got surprising news. A new test, called the Datscan, showed he did not have Parkinson's.

"The Datscan actually measures that level of dopamine in the brain by directly targeting the dopamine transporter in the brain," says Dr. Holly Shill, a neurologist at Banner Boswell Medical Center.

Less than five minutes after the Datscan test is complete, radiologists can see the results. When the brain's dopamine supply is normal, the pattern of the receptors has a crescent or comma shape. Parkinson's is indicated if that pattern is round or mal-shaped.

"Getting the diagnosis early on will help us to select those patients who may be candidates for treatments that may slow progression or hopefully stop progression," Dr. Shill says.

Another new test being developed could help diagnose Parkinson's over the telephone in 30 seconds! Just like your arms and legs, your vocal organs are affected by the disease. A team headed by MIT's doctor Max Little is working on a system that uses special software to predict Parkinson's based on how you say certain sounds. In a small study, the test was proven to be 99 percent accurate.

For lane, the accuracy of the Datscan was life changing. "It's hard to express the relief and the joy."

With a quick phone call, you can help researchers with the Parkinson's Voice Initiative. Their goal is to collect enough voice recordings to make the software reliable to work with outside of the lab, and potentially screen for the early signs of the disease. For more information, visit

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