Researchers from the University of South Florida are experimenting with an RFID solution to detect early warning signs of dementia. The study uses RFID-enabled bracelets to track the walking patterns of patients, looking for telltale signals of cognitive decline.
Current treatments for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia involve medications that can only slow, not reverse, the progression of the disease; so the earlier the onset of dementia is detected, the better. The most common forms of testing for dementia, such as a series of questions administered by a doctor, may not catch the issue as early as is preferable.
Researchers are exploring a number of possible early detection methods, including brain scans or checking for biomarkers. The experimental RFID solution can be used in a natural setting and in a relatively unobtrusive manner.
In the study, residents in assisted-living homes wear RFID-enabled wristbands. Receivers placed around the home track the band’s RFID signals, creating a 3D map of the wearer’s movements, to an accuracy of 10 inches. Researchers can examine the records for signs of cognitive decline, including a tendency to wander, veer suddenly, or pause repeatedly.
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