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DCU Spin-Out “GaitKeeper”, Using AI-Powered Technology, Helps Diagnose early-Alzheimer’s Disease

A new AI-powered technology, driven by software developed by Dublin City University Principal Investigator, Dr Aidan Boran working in conjunction with consultants, physiotherapists, and patients at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH).

The ‘GaitKeepers’ project is helping doctors at TUH diagnose early Alzheimer's, and is supporting identification and recovery in many other serious conditions.

Principal Investigator Dr Aidan Boran said

“How we walk is reflective of how well we are, and changes in how we walk can indicate we are becoming unwell! GaitKeeper uses AI computer algorithms to analyse a person’s walk, by using a single video recorded on a mobile phone, making it very portable, and very easy to use. Working with the AI, our Augmented reality app ensures the solution is very consistent and standardised in all settings.” 

The development of GaitKeeper was significantly funded by Enterprise Ireland through their Commercialisation Fund Programme, and supported by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, DCU Invent and Innovate Health at TUH.

Prof. Noel O’Connor, CEO of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, said

“GaitKeeper is an excellent example of the opportunity for cutting-edge AI to drive real impact and solve practical problems in healthcare. It is also a great example of how Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland can support entrepreneurs like Dr Boran and clinicians like Prof. Kennelly to leverage the research expertise in our universities to drive disruptive innovation.”

Professor Seán Kennelly Consultant Geriatrician and Director of the Institute of Memory & Cognition at TUH, lead clinician investigator in the GaitKeeper project outlines the significance of this development:

 “Up until now gait analysis in clinical settings has been very limited, not because it is not important, but due to the expense, inaccuracies, high level of training required and the space that equipment takes up. This new technology changes all of that. Using AI and AR, the GaitKeeper app captures over 20 points on a person’s body, 60 times per second as they walk, using a phone. This app represents a significant breakthrough and means gait assessments can be conducted by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Gone is the need for specialised equipment like sensors, mats, or special clothing. The assessments can be done in nursing homes, GP practices, outpatient clinics, on hospital wards, and even in someone’s own home.”

For patients with chronic diseases such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis, walking speed serves as an indicator of disease progression and response to treatment. Doctors at TUH believe that including walking speed assessments in regular clinical practice can significantly enhance patient care by providing a clear and objective measure of an individual's functional abilities and overall health status.

Falls are another significant cause of health decline as people get older, and are associated with over 500 million healthcare costs in Ireland annually. An exciting project led by Dr Paul McElwaine, Director of Falls Unit in TUH will use GaitKeeper in the Hospital Falls service, to estimate people’s risk of falling, and thereby direct them towards interventions to prevent that fall happening.

Dr McElwaine said

“International guidelines have always recommended the importance of gait speed as an important indicator of someone’s risk of falling, but for lots of reasons this has been significantly challenging to implement in clinical settings. GaitKeeper addresses all these issues and is a real breakthrough in allowing for easy and accurate measurement of gait speed in falls clinic and acute care settings, so that we can focus resources to those most in need to prevent future falls”.

The GaitKeeper technology is a CE marked, class one medical device and is now available to buy on license from DCU spin-out company Digital Gait Labs.