With a bit of help from KMi technology, researchers at the University of Bologna have developed a new decision support system, which helps neurologists measure the disability caused to a patient by the onset of multiple sclerosis. The system, which is called AEDSS (Automatic EDSS), assesses the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) in a patient, which is the most widely used measure of disability used in multiple sclerosis clinical trials.
AEDSS, which employs KMis OCML representation and reasoning engine, is emerging as the best tool available in the world for standardizing EDSS scores. In particular AEDSS ensures that the neurologist follows precise reasoning steps, thus enhancing the reliability of the resulting EDSS measure. The system uses OCML to represent and integrate the formal rules used to compute EDSS measures with both additional heuristics and general neurological knowledge for the Multiples Sclerosis domain. An experiment carried out in four medical centres in Italy demonstrated that AEDSS is able to improve the standardization of the EDSS measures taken by different neurologists, and can also prevent mistakes during the assessment process.
The head of the research group that carried out the work, Prof Mauro Gaspari, thus commented on the value of OCML: OCML has proven to be an extremely useful tool for this project. What we needed was a flexible representation language with strong expressivity, efficient reasoning, and reliability. OCML scored very highly in all these categories and indeed turned out to be far better than any of the other alternatives we considered. We are very happy with the work we have produced, which has attracted a lot of attention from both researchers and practitioners working with MS patients. In particular, we are currently discussing a possible collaboration with researchers at the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University in the US, who are interested in using our AEDSS system in the context of their research on new drugs to treat pain in Multiple Sclerosis patients.