The Asian Age

First app to tell if al­co­hol- re­lated tremors are real

Chronic al­co­hol abusers of­ten come to the emer­gency depart­ment claim­ing to be in with­drawal in an ef­fort to ob­tain ben­zo­di­azepines

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Toronto, Sept. 1: Sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped the world’s first app to mea­sure strength of tremors owing to al­co­hol with­drawal, pro­vid­ing guid­ance to di­rect treat­ment de­ci­sions.

The app also shows prom­ise in mak­ing solid pre­dic­tions about whether the tremor is real or fake.

With­drawal is a po­ten­tially fa­tal con­di­tion that is eas­ily treated with ben­zo­di­azepine drugs, a class of seda­tives used to treat al­co­hol with­drawal, anx­i­ety, seizures, in­som­nia and more.

But physi­cians are of­ten re­luc­tant to pre­scribe them be­cause they’re fre­quently abused and can be dan­ger­ous when mixed with other drugs, es­pe­cially al­co­hol and opi­ates. The most com­monly used clin­i­cal sign of with­drawal is tremor, es­pe­cially in the hands and arms.

Judg­ing tremor sever­ity is harder than it sounds — it re­quires con­sid­er­able med­i­cal ex­per­tise, and even ex­pe­ri­enced doc­tors’ es­ti­mates can vary widely.

Chronic al­co­hol abusers of­ten come to the emer­gency depart­ment claim­ing to be in with­drawal in an ef­fort to ob­tain ben­zo­di­azepines, and it can be dif­fi­cult for in­ex­pe­ri­enced clin­i­cians to de­ter­mine if the pa­tient is ac­tu­ally in with­drawal or “fak­ing” a with­drawal tremor.

Front- line health- care work­ers had no ob­jec­tive way to tell the suf­fer­ers from the fak­ers — un­til now.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Toronto de­vel­oped the world’s first app to mea­sure tremor strength, pro­vid­ing ob­jec­tive guid­ance to di­rect treat­ment de­ci­sions.

A re­searchers team at tested the app on 49 pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enc­ing tremors.

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