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Sniff Test Could Indicate Brain Disorders

Researchers have developed a device that might help doctors identify the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. The Sniff Magnitude Test measures a patient's sense of smell, which can be one of the first indications of a brain disorder. Using a nasal tube attached to a plastic container, researchers release chemical vapors that expose a patient to different smells.

The size and intensity of a subject's sniff are important, because those with an impaired sense of smell continue to take deep whiffs, as they have trouble identifying the scent. While the test is promising as a "first-alert" method, the researchers stress that the device should be used in conjunction with other brain tests. The WR Medical Electronics Co. (Stillwater, MN) is manufacturing the device and plans on distributing next year.  

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