Most of us know that Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox have Parkinson’s disease, which leads to shaking and difficulty with movement. Each year, more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with this neurological disorder. What you might not know is that detecting Parkinson’s is very complex, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Norconnect, Inc. set out to build a system that could algorithmically determine if subjects have Parkinson’s disease. Using NI LabVIEW and a USB-6008 data acquisition device, they built a system that detects Parkinson’s based on electromyogram (EMG) signals from hand muscles during handwriting.
The system works with gel surface EMG electrodes. These electrodes are placed in predetermined locations on the hands, and gloves hold the electrodes in place. Subjects then write on a tablet for a predetermined amount of time, during which the USB DAQ devices collects data and LabVIEW analyzes the data.
The system’s analytical program was built in LabVIEW and evaluates muscle activity during the controlled handwriting movements. LabVIEW’s intuitive graphical programming features enabled the team to develop a GUI for data collection within minutes. This statistical software is the defining differentiator between Norconnect’s system and others on the market.
Today, the system is used in medical centers and university athletic departments, and the Norconnect team presented their results at an international conference in Florence, Italy.