Biometric handwriting analysis to support Parkinson's Disease assessment and grading

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Background: Handwriting abnormalities represents one of the major symptom in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients. The computer-aided analysis of the handwriting allows for the identification of promising patterns that might be useful in PD detection and rating. In this study, we propose an innovative set of features extracted by geometrical, dynamical and muscle activation signals acquired during handwriting tasks, and evaluate the contribution of such features in detecting and rating PD by means of artificial neural networks. Methods: Eleven healthy subjects and twenty-one PD patients were enrolled in this study. Each involved subject was asked to write three different patterns on a graphic tablet while wearing the Myo Armband used to collect the muscle activation signals of the main forearm muscles. We have then extracted several features related to the written pattern, the movement of the pen and the pressure exerted with the pen and the muscle activations. The computed features have been used to classify healthy subjects versus PD patients and to discriminate mild PD patients from moderate PD patients by using an artificial neural network (ANN). Results: After the training and evaluation of different ANN topologies, the obtained results showed that the proposed features have high relevance in PD detection and rating. In particular, we found that our approach both detect and rate (mild and moderate PD) with a classification accuracy higher than 90%. Conclusions: In this paper we have investigated the representativeness of a set of proposed features related to handwriting tasks in PD detection and rating. In particular, we used an ANN to classify healthy subjects and PD patients (PD detection), and to classify mild and moderate PD patients (PD rating). The implemented and tested methods showed promising results proven by the high level of accuracy, sensitivity and specificity. Such results suggest the usability of the proposed setup in clinical settings to support the medical decision about Parkinson's Disease.




Cascarano, G. D., Loconsole, C., Brunetti, A., Lattarulo, A., Buongiorno, D., Losavio, G., … Bevilacqua, V. (2019). Biometric handwriting analysis to support Parkinson’s Disease assessment and grading. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 19(9).

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