Tremors, trouble walking, stiff and achy muscles, there are many unmistakable signs of Parkinsons. Now researchers are looking at another symptom that could help diagnose the disease, with a phone call.
Lou Baxter has the story.
Listen closely to these men.
Richard Bailey, Parkinsons patient: "It's a learning experience every time."
David Akins, Parkinsons patient: "Yea, I didn't know what was causing it."
Do their voices tell you they have Parkinsons?
Dr. Max Little, MIT: "We are discovering new things about how Parkinsons affects the voice."
MIT's Doctor Max Little says in lab settings his teams technology was able to detect the disease with 99-percent accuracy.
Just by listening to voice recordings.
"So we can tell the severity of the symptoms as well, yea."
Nat sound: (vocal cord noise)
" We were interested in this question, whether or not this technology could be deployed over the telephone."
Nat sound: (and say ahhh.)
The Parkinsons Voice Initiative is collecting phoned-in voices from around the world and measuring 130 features, including breathiness, tremors, vocal pitch and tone.
Nat sound (ahhh.)
"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."
Little's goal: "To reduce the costs involved in doing for example mass-scale screening."
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.
Detecting disease, just by dialing in.
Nat sound (dialing phone)
Lou Baxter Jet 24 Action News.