FEB 18, 2020 8:55 AM PST

The Wearable that Spots Early Signs of Alzheimer's

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Since 2000, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s has increased by almost 90%. With an estimated 5.8 million Americans suffering from the disease, the Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) is developing wearable technology capable of diagnosing it years before symptoms begin. 

Although cognitive tests currently exist to detect the disease, they suffer from many limitations such as an inability to detect the disease at early stages, the potential to be “learned” thus making repeat testing ineffective, and their need for subjective analysis. Although brain imaging techniques may provide more concrete and consistent results, they are nevertheless costly and invasive, meaning they are inaccessible for the vast majority of those suffering from the disease.

Researchers at EDoN thus feel that wearables may be a better solution. Not only may they more consistently monitor patients and provide objective results, they are also not invasive and provide little or no extra burden on the healthcare system. Working by retrieving information about the user’s gait, movements, heart rate, sleeping patterns, eye movements etc. over time to notice any changes indicative of impending dementia, wearables may more accurately predict the onset of the disease than current methods. 

Lynn Rochester, a researcher at Newcastle University Human Movement Science said, “Free-living gait analysis at home is particularly useful as it allows objective observation of an individual's day-to-day activity. It also has the benefit of providing continuous data over a prolonged time that may be more sensitive than one-off assessments.”

Over time, the researchers hope to combine findings from concurrent, ongoing studies looking at different aspects of detecting Alzheimer’s disease from wearable technology- be it via one’s gait, eye movements, fine motor skills or other metrics. Once combined, they intend to use machine learning technology to crunch the data and build a prototype over the next three years to begin diagnosing dementia early on from multiple, noninvasive data points.

Chris Holmes, health programme director of EDoN, said, “"Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the learning opportunities from large-scale data studies such as Edon by integrating information from multiple sources. We will use AI to deliver new insights into the early signals of disease by combining digital data measurements with traditional sources such as brain imaging and memory tests."


Sources: News Medical, EDoN Initiative and BBC

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
OCT 21, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Dementia Diagnostic Looks for 'Hungry' Immune Cells in the Brain
OCT 21, 2021
Dementia Diagnostic Looks for 'Hungry' Immune Cells in the Brain
Experts have long known that the immune cells in our brains called microglia are important for preserving neural tissue ...
OCT 20, 2021
Plants & Animals
Processed Foods Negatively Affect Memory in Aging Brains
OCT 20, 2021
Processed Foods Negatively Affect Memory in Aging Brains
Processed foods—chips, soda, frozen meals, the kinds of foods designed to have a long shelf life and be easy to pr ...
OCT 22, 2021
Neuroscience
Blind Person Sees With Visual Cortex Implant
OCT 22, 2021
Blind Person Sees With Visual Cortex Implant
An implant in a blind person's visual cortex generates images
NOV 04, 2021
Neuroscience
In The Immortal Words of Bart Simpson, Always Thinking Two Moves Ahead: Forward Thinking and Social Control
NOV 04, 2021
In The Immortal Words of Bart Simpson, Always Thinking Two Moves Ahead: Forward Thinking and Social Control
Researchers study feeling of social control to better understand the brain's decision-making center
DEC 12, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
An Intricate Wiring Diagram of the Cells in a Mouse Brain
DEC 12, 2021
An Intricate Wiring Diagram of the Cells in a Mouse Brain
A detailed map of thousands of neurons in the mouse brain was created by a team of researchers, who worked on the projec ...
JAN 07, 2022
Health & Medicine
Is There a Suicide Gene?
JAN 07, 2022
Is There a Suicide Gene?
With suicide often linked to psychiatric disorders, a search for its biological underpinnings is only natural. Researche ...
Loading Comments...