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Early detection for Parkinson’s

Australian researchers are leading the development of a 20-minute test to identify the early stages of dementia in Parkinson’s disease patients.

The test to be administered by health professionals will be able to accurately diagnose pre-clinical dementia in the about 40 per cent of Parkinson’s patients who later develop the illness.

In a seven-year trial, the test was able to correctly identify individuals in the pre-clinical stages of dementia with more than 90 per cent accuracy.

Principal investigator Dr Audrey McKinlay, from Monash University’s school of psychology and psychiatry, said treatment before clear symptoms arise could improve quality of life, reduce healthcare costs for patients and alleviate the burden on caregivers.

She said there is currently no universally accepted set of tests for detecting the cognitive problems in Parkinson’s that may develop into dementia.

The research is currently being conducted with the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

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