Your typing and mouse movements may be able to act as a warning sign for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Your computer habits may also help doctors to determine if there are signs of mild cognitive impairment.
According to recent research utilizing user information from search engine data, individuals with Parkinson’s disease will show tremors in their mouse movements, will be more likely to repeat queries, and will have an average scrolling velocity that differs from people without the condition.
The keystrokes and search patterns of someone with Alzheimer’s also differ from those of an average internet search engine user.
Another study found that people with mild cognitive impairment make fewer movements than average with their mouse and tend to have longer pauses between those mouse movements. A different study was done by the same researcher and found that patients with mild cognitive impairment took more time to complete an online health survey.
A look at overall typing, mouse use, and input speed of a computer user may end up creating a lot of useful diagnostic data for doctors.
While all of this is still in the research phase, there is a potential for doctors to use the information to help them to track progress and potentially catch and treat neurodegenerative disorders earlier than what is currently possible. With the help of artificial intelligence or behavior pattern mapping programs, your physician may soon have another diagnostic tool available, and it may be one that you don’t even have to go to their office to use.
As technology and data begin to play a larger role in medicine, we are opening the doors to diagnosis and treatment at a distance for some conditions. This may help to reduce in-office patient loads for some doctors, allow for regular day-to-day monitoring of health conditions, and get home-bound patients a diagnosis, and thus treatment, more quickly.
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