Wearable could track health of dementia patients, military members

Wellness devices

A new wearable worn on the wrist can help track activity and behavior of patients suffering from dementia, and also may one day be used to keep tabs on the health status of military recruits and soldiers.

The multi-modal sensing wristband, developed by Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers, tracks and monitors movement, bio-signals and ambient environment, according to an announcement. The basic functions include measuring a user’s physical environment, tracking health status through heart rate and other vital signs, recording movement and location-based communications via Bluetooth.

The wearable, created in collaboration with a Phelps County Regional Medical Center neurologist, will be tested for patient rehab and evaluation. Researchers envision a new form factor in the future, such as a small chip, that can be housed in a soldier’s dog tags.

or those rehabilitating and those with dementia, the ability to track their fine-grained activities and behavior, measure their heart rate and locate them indoor or outdoor can help providers keep tabs on their patients, according to the announcement. The GPS function is especially helpful with dementia patients, who can wander away from home and become lost.

For soliders, the announcement goes on to say, the wearable can better detect head trauma and analyze how someone responds to pathogens.

“The great benefit for the Army is, at the individual level, they get discrete information on soldiers,” Steve Tupper, Missouri S&T’s liaison at Fort Leonard Wood, says in the announcement.

Military organizations are increasingly turning to such mHealth devices to boost soldier care and treatment as well as attain faster diagnosis of injuries and healthcare issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Assisted telecare technology, according to a study, can be more beneficial for PTSD over traditional care. In addition, the Veteran’s Affairs Department has been developing mHealth apps for several years to provide veterans faster and easier access to healthcare data via mobile devices.

Another upside to the wearable, according to Tupper, is cost savings for care of Army recruits by monitoring their health. 

 “If you reduce inefficiency, you start to drive the cost down,” Tupper said.

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