Wearable body sensors can predict early signs of Alzheimer's disease
Sensors that are affordable and wearable and assess the walking gait can help detect Alzheimer's disease at an early stage. This can help monitor the progression of the illness in a cost-effective way, says a study.
Identification of clinical biomarkers, like changes in walking characteristics and behaviours, are important factors when looking at early warning signs of dementia.
The study shows that wearable sensors offer a good way to assess changes in how a person walks. They can also offer a way to be used for continuous monitoring of gait during everyday activities.
Wearable sensors at home have the potential to change dementia research. This is a major step forward in the collection of data.
The researchers used 20 patients with early Alzheimer's disease for the study.
Volunteers wore a small wearable sensor on their lower back. They carried out walking tasks in the laboratory and then went home wearing the sensor for a week, where they did everyday tasks.
Gait is emerging as a potential diagnostic tool for cognitive decline. Experts say it is possible to use body sensors to assess quantitative gait characteristics in both clinic and home environment in patients with early onset Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease starts long before it is noticed. The changes to the brain set in 10 to 20 years before symptoms show up.
If the biomarkers can be identified at an early stage, there may be a chance of treating the disease earlier. This is important to prevent damage to people's memory and thinking.