These studies, which are funded by the American Heart Association, will use wearable sensors to increase knowledge of the links between brain and heart health
Shimmer Research, an Enterprise Ireland-supported global leader in wearable technology for research applications, has announced that Boston University (BU) School of Medicine has selected Shimmer’s Verisense® wearable sensing platform to monitor participants’ motion, activity, and sleep in two brain health studies funded by the American Heart Association in collaboration with global philanthropist Bill Gates.
This new initiative is part of the American Heart Association’s Strategically Focused Research Network on Health Technologies and Innovation. Boston University Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology Rhoda Au, Ph.D., is leading the Network’s fifth research site, a brain health, and dementia technology research center, which will conduct the two new studies.
Dr. Au’s multidisciplinary team is studying the connections between heart and brain health, specifically relating to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They plan to use new technologies, such as the Verisense platform, to identify and track early behaviors that can affect brain health and lead to chronic diseases. They will also use advanced computational analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to determine who is at risk for those diseases and ultimately find ways to prevent the behaviors or triggers that lead to them.
The first study will rotate the use of the Verisense Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor devices across 350 participants. It is designed to be worn on the participants’ wrist, monitoring their motion, activity, and sleep, for two weeks every quarter for two years. Each participant will be sent a sensor and asked to return it in the envelope provided at the end of the two-week study period. Each Verisense sensor has sufficient memory on board to store up to 44 days’ worth of data, ensuring that no information will be lost. The second study will be of 15 participants and look at the usability of different technologies.
“This passive data collection approach requires minimal action by the participant, making it potentially more sustainable in the long term. It should also encourage a more diverse participant population by enabling people to enroll who have historically been excluded from this type of study because they could not afford to purchase the requisite wearable health technology,” said Dr. Au.
“We have chosen Shimmer sensors because they can provide the raw sensor data that we need to develop our advanced AI algorithms; this is in addition to the derived measures that are typically provided. The Verisense system was specifically designed to support remote clinical studies and offers unparalleled ease of use for participants,” she added.
“Although many of our clients like to use Verisense in a mode where it monitors compliance and participant data collection remotely in real-time, the BU approach highlights another Verisense platform capability,” said Geoffrey Gill, President of Shimmer Americas. “By using the Verisense IMU onboard data storage capacity we can simplify the system and reduce cost. Shimmer is committed to meeting the individual needs of each study team we work with.”