Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wireless Detectors for Dementia

Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) have developed a wireless network that evaluates walking patterns in an attempt to detect early signs of dementia. The USF researchers have developed an RFID system that allows walking patterns to be monitored in a natural setting.

To test the approach, the USF researchers put RFID tags on the wrists of residents at two assisted-living homes in Florida. These tags transmitted signals that were picked up by receivers placed around each building, revealing the wearer's movements in all three spatial dimensions to within 10 inches of accuracy.

The researchers analyzed participants' movements for telltale signs of cognitive decline: a tendency to wander, veer suddenly, or repeatedly pause. In a study involving 20 residents the researchers found a statistical relationship between those who showed abnormal walking patterns and those whose mental test scores indicated dementia. In the future, the USF team plans to develop software that will automatically detect these warning signs.

Interesting idea to be able to detect dementia via walking patterns recorded by a wireless device. Somebody should whip up an iPhone app to do the same thing.

via Technology Review via Engadget

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