If you are an Apple fan, this news may be more exciting to you. But customers of other brands don’t need to worry: other smart devices probably have the same effects.
A study conducted by Evidation Health on behalf of Eli Lilly and Apple suggests that data collected from smart devices and digital apps might help speed up the diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
MCI and AD
The purpose of the study is to assess the feasibility of using smart devices to differentiate individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia from healthy controls.
MCI causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function.
With MCI, patients may start to forget important information that he or she would previously have recalled easily, like appointments, conversations or recent events. And/or their thinking skills may be affected, including the ability to make sound decisions, judge the time or sequence of steps needed to complete a complex task, or visual perception.
Early symptoms of AD, however, include memory loss, trouble in planning and problem solving, difficulty in finishing daily tasks, confusing times and places, frustration in recalling a word or a name, mood changes, etc.
MCI is the clinically symptomatic, pre-dementia stage of AD.
During the 12-week study, researchers collected 16 TB data from 31 people with cognitive impairment and 82 without it. The total 113 participants aged from 60 to 75.
Participants were required to use an iPhone as their primary phone, Apple Watch, iPad with smart keyboard and Beddit sleep monitoring device, with apps.
The data were collected through tasks including reading, typing speed and dragging one shape onto another or tapping a circle. The team also studies mood, sleep patterns, energy and motor control.
Symptomatic participants tended to type more slowly and showed less routine behavior.
For example, the range of times that they tended to pick up and put down their phones was different from people without cognitive impairment. They also sent fewer text messages throughout their day and spent more time in “helper apps” like clock app and Siri’s suggestions.
Why this matters
According to Charlotte Jee from MIT Technology Review, “It can take a long time to diagnose Alzheimer's disease correctly, because its early symptoms are subtle and easy to dismiss as 'normal aging.' Accelerating that process would help the nearly 500,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer's every year in the US alone."
The earlier a patient is diagnosed as AD, the earlier he or she can get medical help. The trial also sets the groundwork for future research that may eventually lead to early screening or detection tools for neurodegenerative conditions.
Prevention is always better
Prevention is better than treatment. Here are some tips you can follow to prevent yourself from AD: Protect Yourself from Alzheimer’s.