Keyboard Typing Patterns May Contribute to Parkinson’s Diagnosis

An individual’s style of keyboard typing is so distinctive that it can be used as a biometric signature for security purposes. A new study out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that this signature can also be translated into a potential diagnostic tool for detecting motor impairments. The researchers have developed an algorithm that analyzes keystroke patterns and detects changes in that pattern that are suggestive of motor impairments. In a preliminary study in 21 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and 15 controls, the researchers were able to distinguish the PD patients from controls based on greater variability of their keystroke patterns. If these findings are confirmed in a larger study, this may present a new avenue for earlier diagnosis of PD, and possibly of other motor disorders such as ALS.

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