The use of advanced tracking technologies for the analysis of mobility in Alzheimer's disease and related cognitive diseases

Noam Shoval, Gail K. Auslander, Tim Freytag, Ruth Landau, Frank Oswald, Ulrich Seidl, Hans Werner Wahl, Shirli Werner*, Jeremia Heinik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Background. One of the more common behavioral manifestations of dementia-related disorders is severe problems with out-of-home mobility. Various efforts have been attempted to attain a better understanding of mobility behavior, but most studies are based on institutionalized patients and the assessment usually relies on reports of caregivers and institutional staff, using observational approaches, activity monitoring, or behavioral checklists. The current manuscript describes the research protocol of a project that measures mobility in Alzheimer's disease and related cognitive disorders in an innovative way, by taking advantage of advanced tracking technologies. Methods/design. Participants are 360 demented persons, mildly cognitively impaired persons, and unimpaired controls aged ≥ 65 in Israel and Germany. Data regarding space-time activities will be collected via a GPS tracking kit for a period of 4 weeks in 3 waves (one year apart) with the same participants (using a repeated measures design). Participants will be interviewed by use of a battery of instruments prior to and following GPS data collection. Further, a family member will complete a questionnaire both before and after data tracking. Statistical analyses will strive to explain differences in mobility based on a wide range of socio-structural, clinical, affect-related and environmental variables. We will also assess the impact of the use of advanced tracking technology on the quality of life of dementia patients and care givers, as well as its potential as a diagnostic tool. Systematic assessment of ethical issues involved in the use of tracking technology will be an integral component of the project. Discussion. This project will be able to make a substantial contribution to basic as well as applied and clinical aspects in the area of mobility and cognitive impairment research. The innovative technologies applied in this study will allow for assessing a range of dimensions of out-of-home mobility, and provide better quality data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalBMC Geriatrics
StatePublished - 2008


FundersFunder number
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung


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