Detection of Wandering Behaviors Using a Body-Worn Inertial Sensor in Patients With Cognitive Impairment: A Feasibility Study

Rebecca J. Kamil, Dara Bakar, Matthew Ehrenburg, Eric X. Wei, Alexandra Pletnikova, Grace Xiao, Esther S. Oh, Martina Mancini, Yuri Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and AD related dementias (ADRD) often experience spatial disorientation that can lead to wandering behavior, characterized by aimless or purposeless movement. Wandering behavior has been associated with falls, caregiver burden, and nursing home placement. Despite the substantial clinical consequences of wandering, there is currently no standardized approach to objectively quantify wandering behavior. In this pilot feasibility study, we used a lightweight inertial sensor to examine mobility characteristics of a small group of 12 older adults with ADRD and mild cognitive impairment in their homes. Specifically, we evaluated their compliance with wearing a sensor for a minimum of 4 days. We also examined the ability of the sensor to measure turning frequency and direction changes, given that frequent turns and direction changes during walking have been observed in patients who wander. We found that all patients were able to wear the sensor yielding quantitative turn data including number of turns over time, mean turn duration, mean peak turn speed, and mean turn angle. We found that wanderers make more frequent, quicker turns compared to non-wanderers, which is consistent with pacing or lapping behavior. This study provides preliminary evidence that continuous monitoring in patients with dementia is feasible using a wearable sensor. More studies are needed to explore if objective measures of turning behaviors collected using inertial sensors can be used to identify wandering behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number529661
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - Mar 11 2021


  • body-worn inertial sensor
  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • turning
  • wandering behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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