Researchers test AI-powered program to detect early stages of Alzheimer’s

Researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University are testing an AI-powered program on 10,000 patients to detect early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Led by Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, BrainFX will collect patient data, combine it with information from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and with the help of AI and machine learning, analyze it all to find early risk factors. According to the university, the program will identify cognitive decline faster than traditional tools for earlier treatment planning.

The program could have significant impacts for the longer-term as well, said Tracy Milner, CEO of BrainFX, in a recent statement.

“The data collected from patients will provide key insights to keep our seniors’ brains healthier and allow them to live well at home longer,” she said.

According to its website, BrainFX measures neurofunctions through a tablet and interactive performance activities. These assessments help measure cognitive functional and fine motor skills. Results can then be delivered to a healthcare team.

The announcement falls in line with Ontario’s plan to improve health technologies in the province. In December, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced $5.47 million in funding for 12 projects through the Health Technologies Fund. Called the Brain Health Screening and Risk Management Program, the project received $493,000 from the ministry and includes a partnership between Laurier and Saint Elizabeth Health Care, BrainFX, ThoughtWire Corp., Southlake Regional Health Centre, and four Family Health Teams (FHT) in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (Upper Grand FHT, Two Rivers FHT, Mount Forest FHT, and the Centre for Family Medicine).

Josephine McMurray, assistant professor in the business technology management program, and Azim Essaji, associate professor of economics, both from Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, will evaluate the economic impact of the program.

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