A/Prof Reshma A Merchant, MBChB(Edin), FRCP (Lond) | National University of Singapore (NUS); Ms Chia Lye Peng | FlexoSense; A/Prof Ho Pei, Jackie | NUS
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
Awardee year: 2022
By 2050, 135 million will be suffering from dementia and there is no cure to date. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a transitional phase of cognitive decline between normal aging and dementia, and a known precursor of dementia. MCI is prevalent in 20-30% of adults where more than 60% of the individuals will progress to dementia in their lifetimes. While dementia may be irreversible, progression of MCI to dementia can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle modification such as diet, exercise, lifelong learning, hearing and vision restoration and chronic disease management.
Gait and cognition share a common neural pathway, and any neurodegenerative processes will affect both simultaneously. The crux of our idea is to assess gait and balance variability for healthy and those with MCI through smart 3D-printed insole/footwear with an embedded pressure sensor layer. Identification of these signature hallmarks may enable early identification of those at risk, and with appropriate preventive efforts, possibility of preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.
While it is known that gait speed decline can precede dementia by 10 years, progression of gait pattern and balance changes in older adults with MCI has been under investigated. The personalised 3D-printed smart insole/footwear has the potential to be used at population level for early identification of MCI, and other related conditions such as frailty and sarcopenia where all are precursors for dementia and disability. Our hypothesis being MCI and healthy controls can be differentiated through gait pattern variability and postural control.