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Teen develops app to help detect Alzheimer's disease

Shared by JoanaSaraiva on 2019-08-06 10:36

About the solution

When Kai Leong was in the seventh grade, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. However, before she received the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, doctors thought she was suffering from depression.

Alzheimer's is one of the most common causes of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Early Alzheimer's disease and depression share many symptoms, so it can be difficult to distinguish between the disorders. Also, many people with Alzheimer's disease also are depressed.
The misdiagnosis led him to try to create a tool that would improve the accuracy of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

"As somebody who has had a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, I know all too well the struggles that come along with people being misdiagnosed and being diagnosed later on ... issues with treatment outcomes ... issues with quality of life.", Leong said.

The app helps detect users who might have Alzheimer’s disease by measuring and analysing the way the user moves while walking. This is relevant since studies have shown that adults with Alzheimer’s disease have gait and balance deficits.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that walking patterns are actually validated markers of neurodegenerative diseases," Leong explained. "They're often overlooked because of how expensive and how inaccessible current walking analysis or gait analysis is."

In order to get a gait reading, the user should put their smartphone in their back pocket and walk. After the app has recorded their gait, the values are run through an algorithm and compared to the recordings of healthy individuals, as well as individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The research, coding, testing and system-building processes have not always been easy, but Leong knows that is part of the road to success. “We're often taught in school to strive for perfection... So, I would advise people to never be afraid to fail. It doesn't matter if it doesn't work the first time. Failure is often a stepping stone to success.”

His app has led him to participate in an international science competition in China, the China Adolescent Science and Technology Innovation Contest.

Leong’s goal is not to replace the official medical tests for gait evaluation, but rather to offer an affordable tool that allows early detection of gait disturbances, and early identification of individuals who might be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Adapted from: http://bit.ly/2YqmdhL

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Kai Leong, born in 2001, from Vancouver, developed an app that helps detect Alzheimer's disease.

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