Aug 26, 2009
Parkinson's disease sufferers typically face a long, difficult battle against the disorder's degenerative effects on their motor skills and speech. While many scientists are studying the potential for drugs, surgery and exercise to slow the disease's impact on the central nervous system—including tremors, stiff muscles and impaired movement—one team of researchers is experimenting with technology designed to help Parkinson's sufferers fend off voice and speech problems.
Parkinson's can leave its victims afflicted with speech that tends to be soft, hoarse and monotonous, particularly during the disease's later stages. Jessica Huber, an associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., is in the early stages of developing a device that could help Parkinson's sufferers articulate their thoughts more audibly by exploiting the Lombard effect, a reflex in which people automatically speak louder in the presence of background sound (for example, at a sporting event, party or restaurant).
Mar 9, 2009 | 16
President Obama today lifted an eight-year-old ban on embryonic stem cell research, signing an executive order that he called "an important step in advancing the cause of science in America."
"We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research," Obama said at a signing ceremony in the White House. "And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield."
Obama's order ends former President George W. Bush's limit on federally funded embryonic stem-cell research to cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001. Congress tried twice to reverse that ban, and his National Institutes of Health (NIH) director, Elias Zerhouni, urged an end to the restrictions, but Bush vetoed the legislation both times.
Feb 16, 2009 | 3
What does skin cancer have to do with Parkinson's disease, the degenerative brain condition that causes tremors, slowed gait and problems with balance and coordination? According to a new study, more than you might think.
People with a family history of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have twice the risk of developing Parkinson's disease as people who didn’t have a parent or sibling with the cancer, according to research released today ahead of April's annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Seattle. The study followed nearly 132,000 men and women for 14 to 20 years; at the end of that period, 543 people had developed Parkinson's. The likelihood of getting Parkinson's was almost double — 90 percent greater, to be exact — in those with a close relative who had received a melanoma diagnosis than among those without that family history. (For comparison, the baseline risk of Parkinson’s is about 1 percent for those over 60, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.)
Dec 24, 2008 | 13
A bizarre disorder that causes people to physically act out their dreams while sleeping is associated with a dramatically increased risk of developing dementia, and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, according to new research that suggests the sleep disorder may actually be an early symptom of those conditions.
People with REM sleep behavior disorder, a condition caused by the brain's failure to immobilize a person's muscles while they're dreaming, have an estimated 52 percent risk of developing one of those neurological diseases within a dozen years, according to a study published in today's Neurology. Among people without REM sleep behavior disorder, that risk is about 5 percent, according to study author Ron Postuma, an associate researcher in neurology at the Sleep Disorders Center at Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal.
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