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Wrinkled fingers

A new study has revealed that examining a persons fingers after
soaking them could be an effective method of checking the condition
of a person's nerves.

According to The Straits Times, scientists at the National University
of Singapore and the National University Hospital have found that the
more wrinkled the fingers get, the healthier the nerves are.

They are now trying to use this information to create a simple, cheap
and faster screening method.

The test is based on the fact that water seeps in easily through the
pores in the hand, diluting the body's own liquids and changing the
electrolyte values.

This makes the nerve fibers fire up more rapidly and shrinks tiny
blood vessels in the fingers. As they shrink, they pull the skin
around them, causing wrinkles. Therefore, the number of wrinkles can
indicate the health of the nerves.

According to the scientists, this test could be used to diagnose
nerve atrophy or damage resulting FROM conditions like diabetes or
leprosy. The HIV virus, responsible for Aids, also attacks nerves.

To count the number of wrinkles, scientists have written an algorithm
for software to spot, measure and count wrinkles on digital photos of
fingers.

The computer can compare before and after pictures and measure the
wrinkles. For the test, the nerves are stimulated with anaesthetic,
not water.

The system is currently being tested on HIV patients and has shown a
good degree of accuracy.

"It's not osmosis shrivelling the skin, instead, it's actually the
result of tiny nerve fibers, that reach all the way INTO your
fingertips, reacting to the external stimuli," said Associate
Professor Einar Wilder-Smith of the hospital's neurology department.

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