Computer-based approach helps diagnose neurological disorders based on motor impairment

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The way we move says a lot about the state of our brain. While normal motor behavior points to a healthy brain function, deviations can indicate impairments owing to neurological diseases.
The observation and evaluation of movement patterns is therefore part of basic research and is likewise one of the most important instruments for non-invasive diagnostics in clinical applications.

Under the leadership of computer scientist Prof. Dr Björn Ommer and in collaboration with researchers from Switzerland, a new computer-based approach in this context has been developed at Heidelberg University. As studies inter alia with human test persons have shown, this approach enables the fully automatic recognition of motor impairments and, through their analysis, provides information about the type of the underlying diseases with the aid of artificial intelligence.

For the computer-supported movement analysis, subjects usually have to be tagged with reflective markings or virtual markers have to be applied to the video material produced in the framework of the assessment. Both procedures are comparatively complicated. Furthermore, conspicuous movement behaviour has to be known in advance so that it can be further examined.

"A real diagnostic tool should not only confirm motor disorders but be able to recognize them in the first place and classify them correctly," explains Prof. Ommer, who heads the Computer Vision group at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing at Heidelberg University.

Precisely that is made possible by the novel diagnostic method developed by his team,…
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