A new study suggests that a promising brain-imaging technique has the potential to improve diagnoses for the millions of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Utilizing the diffusion tensor imaging technique, as it is known, could allow clinicians to assess people earlier, leading to improved treatment interventions and therapies for patients.

The three-year study by the University of Florida looked at 72 patients, each with a clinically defined movement disorder diagnosis. Using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers successfully separated the patients into disorder groups with a high degree of accuracy.

"The purpose of this study is to identify markers in the brain that differentiate movement disorders which have clinical symptoms that overlap, making [the disorders] difficult to distinguish,” David Vaillancourt, associate professor in the department of applied physiology and kinesiology and the study’s principal investigator, said.

"No other imaging, cerebrospinal fluid or blood marker has been this successful at differentiating these disorders. The results are very promising,” he said.

The study is set to be published in the journal Movement Disorders.

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