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
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
SEP 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Why Do We Build Tolerance to Cannabis?
SEP 21, 2020
Why Do We Build Tolerance to Cannabis?
Many notice that after regularly smoking cannabis, it takes more and more to feel its effects- if any at all. While abst ...
OCT 01, 2020
Immunology
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
OCT 01, 2020
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
Much like electrical wires that are encased in plastic insulating sheaths, nerve cells also are also surrounded by a sim ...
NOV 01, 2020
Neuroscience
High Fat Diet Could Prevent Anorexia Deaths
NOV 01, 2020
High Fat Diet Could Prevent Anorexia Deaths
Researchers from Yale University have homed in on a specific kind of neuron that appears to play a sizable role in fatal ...
NOV 14, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Towards a Better Characterization of Neurons
NOV 14, 2020
Towards a Better Characterization of Neurons
The human body is made up of a wide array of different types of cells, and if we want to understand human diseases and t ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Confirm Link Between Alzheimer's and Gut Bacteria
NOV 15, 2020
Researchers Confirm Link Between Alzheimer's and Gut Bacteria
Researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland have confirmed the link between an imbalance of gut bacteria an ...
NOV 10, 2020
Neuroscience
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
NOV 10, 2020
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
Video:  Explains the challenges of delivering medicine to the brain, and possibly tools to pass the blood-brain bar ...
Loading Comments...