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Teenager creates software to help detect Parkinson's disease early

Shared by JoanaSaraiva on 2019-07-30 12:20

About the solution

Erin has always been a huge fan of Michael Fox's movies. Michael Fox is the star of the ‘Back to the Future’ films. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 29.

Erin was 15 when she was watching the actor Michael Fox and had a ‘Eureka’ moment. She noticed that his expressions lacked emotions. He also had a droopy smile and upturned eyebrow. Looking back at Fox's work, Erin also noticed that his expressions had started to change even before he was diagnosed, in 1991.

This inspired Erin to learn how to code from scratch so she could create a computer program that would help spot early signs of the disease. That is when she decided to create FacePrint, a solution that helps detect the disease 10 years earlier than usual.

‘I have always been a big fan of ‘Back To The Future’. After having the initial idea, I was able to look at old footage to see when Michael’s facial differences occurred. And as I searched through past medical papers, I found that the parts of the brain that experience the earliest changes in Parkinson’s are the same parts involved in facial expression formation.’, Erin explained.

‘Earlier detection would not only enable people to take control but could lead to the development of new and better treatments.’ , Professor David Dexter of charity Parkinson’s UK said.

It took her one year to create a prototype of the solution. It uses video footage, the same facial recognition technology used to scan CCTV images for faces of known criminals. However, her solution is capable of continually improving at detecting signs of Parkinson’s.

Her FacePrint program received funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for two pilot studies. These studies showed her solution had a 88% accuracy at differentiating Parkinson’s disease sufferers from healthy individuals.

Erin has recently pitched her invention at a conference in London called WIRED Health and run by the UK magazine WIRED.

Stanford University is now backing a crowdsourcing trial to refine Erin’s programme.

Adapted from: https://dailym.ai/2MoekCg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9YpnZVuptY

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Erin Smith, born in 2000, in the USA, created FacePrint, a computer program that helps the early detection of Parkinson's disease.

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