MIT's WiGait Helps Diagnose Cognitive Decline And Cardiac Disease By Measuring Walking Speed With Wireless Signals

Posted: May 2 2017, 4:51am CDT | by , Updated: May 2 2017, 4:53am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
MIT's WiGait Helps Diagnose Cognitive Decline and Cardiac Disease by Measuring Walking Speed With Wireless Signals
WiGait uses wireless signals to continuously measure a person's walking speed , which may help predict cognitive and motor function decline, and even certain cardiac or pulmonary diseases. Photo Credit: Jason Dorfman/ MIT CSAIL
  • By measuring this emerging vital sign, system could help monitor and diagnose health issues like cognitive decline and cardiac disease

An MIT wireless gadget can gauge walking speed in individuals in order to detect early warning signs of health problems.

It is common sense that breath rate, blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate lend a peek into the general health of the patient.

Yet the medicos missed one very vital function which is the rate at which you walk. This could be a very good predictor of health problems such as cognitive degeneration, accidental falls, heart attacks and even pulmonary issues.

Yet it is pretty difficult to gauge walking speed on a continuous basis. Scientists at MIT have managed to make a wireless device for this express purpose.

Termed WiGait, this device can measure the walking speed of many people with nearly 99% precision. Usage is made of wireless signals in this device.

The device has the dimensions of a painting and can be hung on the walls of a home. The prototype consisted of wireless signals that bumped off people’s frames.

A number of behavioral acts were noted via this arrangement. Via the use of sensors, how walking speed transforms over time can be noted down with accuracy.

Patients can change their routines whether they are physical therapy-based or medication-based depending on the results of this device. Such diseases as Parkinson’s can be detected early onwards by the altered step size of the patient.

Normally speed of walking is measured using a stopwatch. Such devices as FitBit can measure this statistic via a heuristic based upon step count. Smartphones are not accurate in this regard and as far as cameras go, they are an invasion of privacy.

VICON motion tracking is left but it is not feasible since it is not widely available. WiGait measures speed while walking with great acumen. The person does not need to wear anything. The wireless signals that surround the person do the job of tracking his or her walking speed.

Also the device can easily differentiate between walking and other activities such as doing the dishes in the kitchen or washing one’s face in the washroom.

This gizmo provides a cornucopia of vital health information for senior citizens who can better monitor themselves through its services. A slight change in walking gait can mean that the person has an injury or is prone to falling.

Most of the hospital stays are due to conditions which could have been diagnosed earlier onwards. This device sees to it that the dictum “care is better than cure” is applied in reality.

WiGait details will be revealed in a paper in May at ACM's CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Colorado.

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