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Research finds that Apple's cellular gadgets might help diagnose a critical well being situation

With Apple working hard to come up with more health-related features for its products, drugmaker Eli Lilly announced last week that certain Apple products can help spot people with dementia. Early results from a test showed that devices including the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, in combination with certain apps and the Beddit sleep monitoring device, can reveal whether a person has “mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia” and “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI). The study was conducted by Apple, Lilly and health care company Evidation Health on 113 people age 60 to 75 over a period of 12 weeks.
Those participating in the study were asked to answer a pair of one-question surveys each day. They also were asked to perform certain tasks on an app such as tapping on a circle as fast as possible and dragging on screen an object with a certain shape to another object. Other tests were performed on the participant’s ability to type and read. The results of the study were presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s KDD conference in Anchorage and found that those with symptoms of dementia tended to type at a slower rate of speed than others, and sent fewer text messages over a set period time.

Apple has already integrated life-saving tools on the Apple Watch

16TB of data were collected from the participants, and the study showed that Apple devices and certain apps can help monitor symptoms of those diagnosed with MCI or mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia; detect cognitive changes that could point to MCI; test the effectiveness of treatment and therapies; and speed up the development of therapies to produce more accurate diagnostic tools.

Apple has already demonstrated that it can integrate life-saving health tools in the Apple Watch; the heart-rate monitor has already saved a number of lives and the breakout feature on the Apple Watch series 4 is the electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor. The latter detects abnormal heartbeats indicative of Atrial fibrillation, which can lead to blood clots, heart failure, strokes, and death. This life-saving feature has become so popular that Samsung is including it on the Galaxy Active Watch 2. However, as it did with Apple’s ECG sensor, the FDA needs to greenlight the one on Sammy’s phone. As a result, the ECG sensor will be disabled on the new Tizen-powered timepiece until sometime during the first half of next year.

Apple released a very brief statement related to the release of the study. Myoung Cha, Apple’s Head of Health Strategic Partnerships, said, “We are excited to work alongside Lilly and Evidation in supporting the research community, as they seek to discover digital biomarkers of cognitive impairment.”


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