How you hold a pen can tell if a person has Alzheimer’s

The way you hold the pen can tell if a person has Alzheimer’s. The statement comes from research published in the scientific journal JMIR Formative Research. To achieve this, the scientists gathered 92 elderly people and asked them to draw a picture.

The researchers analyzed pen pressure, pauses during drawing, how participants held the pen and speed of drawing, and the results were fed into a machine learning model intended to indicate possible mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.

According to the article, the elderly with a lower cognitive index showed greater variability in drawing speed and in the way of holding the pen, in addition to pausing more while drawing. The study authors argue that the test can be used in people with early warning signs to show the possibility of progressing to Alzheimer’s.

Photo: Farknot / Envato / Canaltech

“Although this was a relatively small study, the results are encouraging and pave the way for better screening tests for cognitive impairments,” the researchers say. The idea is to improve the quality of life of future patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

According to the scientists involved, about 75% of Alzheimer’s patients are undiagnosed, and finding an effective diagnostic tool is vital for early detection of the disease. However, the authors themselves acknowledge that there is still a long way to go: “While it is clear that drawing traits can be used to screen for cognitive impairments, most screening tests remain relatively imprecise,” they say.

Source: JMIR Formative Research via IFL Science

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