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Shoe with built-in GPS device helps track Alzheimer's patients

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (

It's a simple idea that amazingly has not been acted upon. Now, a Los Angeles-based firm is offering shoes with a built-in tracking device to track Alzheimer's patients. The new invention will grant peace of mind to the friends and relatives of those who suffer from the memory-destroying disease.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Alzheimer's patients often struggle to remember friends and family members. However, Alzheimer's sufferers usually retain their "procedural memory," such as remembering to get dressed. For many, it's the last type of memory they retain.

Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services in Washington DC, says the shoes will save lives as well as avoid embarrassing, costly incidents with the elderly.

"It's especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's who are at the highest risk," Professor Carle says.

While there are similar GPS tracking devices available, these are often rejected by dementia sufferers. "The primary reason is that paranoia is a manifestation of the disease.

"If you put something on someone with Alzheimer's that they don't recognize they remove it. If it's a wristwatch and it's not their wristwatch, they will take it off. So you have to hide it."
The shoes, which would retail for about $400 in U.S. dollars, are fitted with a miniature GPS system, similar to those found in cars. The device will allow its wearer's location to be accurately pinpointed.

Relatives are even able to set up a designated "safe" area so if the person strays beyond those boundaries, it would trigger an alert in the form of an email or text message.

Family members then use an app to a smart phone or computer to find out the location of the missing person.

The device is implanted in the heel of what appears to be a normal walking shoe. The item cannot be seen or felt, contains a battery, SIM card and an integrated chip to help the device function.

The antenna and a USB connection to charge the shoes runs up the back heel of the shoe. Requiring charging roughly every two days, the process takes up to two hours.

The invention of the Los Angeles-based GTX Corp, the company makes miniature tracking devices and Aetrex shoes.

Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX Corp, said the mini GPS system was initially made for training shoes for long distance runners. Production was changed after tests showed the benefit to sufferers of the disease.

Statistics have proven that if not found within the first 24 hours, over 50 percent of Alzheimer's sufferers may be seriously harmed.

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