Sensor Ensures Alzheimer's Patients Don't Wander

The Safe Wander alters caregivers when Alzheimer's patients wander out of bed.
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The Safe Wander alters caregivers when Alzheimer's patients wander out of bed.
Safe Wander

Photo Credit: Safe Wander

Kenneth Shinozuka is a 15-year-old from California who has declared that he wants to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. His first step is helping patients with Alzheimer's and dementia by developing a pressure sensor that alerts caregivers when patients have gotten up and walked away.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 60 percent of the estimated five million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's wander, which can result in getting lost in dangerous situations.

The sensor, called the Safe Wander, is worn in socks and sits at the bottom of the foot. An increase in pressure will send an alert to caregivers' smartphones. The teen came up with the idea from scratch and taught himself how to make it. He is also beta testing it on patients at assisted living facility Irvine Cottages.

"My grandfather has lost the capability to eat by himself, to walk by himself, definitely to write and read. He can barely speak anymore. So it's very hard," Shinozuka told NBC News. "It's also very hard for my aunt, his primary caregiver, since she's the one who has to take care of him all the time."

His grandfather, Deming, regularly wanders, so Shinozuka attached the Safe Wander to the bottom of his grandfather's sock. It ended up detecting Deming wandering out of bed 437 times, without any false alarms.

"I hope that my device will ultimately reach out to the tens of millions of wandering patients around the world and also relieve the burdens on their caregivers," he said.

Shinozuka eventually hopes to become a neuroscientist that specializes in engineering and computer science.

"I'd like to solve some of the mysteries of the brain, and invent tools to ultimately, I think, cure Alzheimer's and other mental conditions that our aging population suffers from," he said. 

Safe Wander

Photo Credit: Safe Wander

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