Research ArticlePHYSIOLOGY

More random motor activity fluctuations predict incident frailty, disability, and mortality

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Science Translational Medicine  30 Oct 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 516, eaax1977
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax1977

Predictive patterns

Fractals are self-similar patterns that exist across different conditions; in medicine, changes in fractal fluctuations can indicate disease, such as degraded fractal movement fluctuations seen with dementia. Using wrist-worn activity monitors, Li et al. analyzed daily motor activity of a large cohort of elderly subjects. They found that more random fluctuations over two time scales (1 to 90 min and greater than 2 hours) predicted increased risk of frailty, disability, and death years later—independent of age, sex, chronic health conditions, and total motor activity. Results suggest that fractal analyses can help predict health outcomes in the absence of overt symptoms and support the utility of passive monitoring.

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