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Projects

MOBILITY

Relevance to Aging

Falls can result in serious injuries for older adults including hip, pelvic, and wrist fractures.  Injuries might trigger an extended hospital stay or placement in assisted living/long-term care.  Suffering a fall decreases walking confidence, leading to reduced mobility.

Description of Technology

A pressure-sensitive mat placed under the mattress will
identify how people use their hands to get up, if they are balanced in their weight support, and whether they need to bounce and rock to generate momentum when rising out of bed.

Goals of Research

To identify mobility changes at home that may allow for early intervention to prevent falls and fractures.

To provide the health care team with information  about patient mobility gains or declines upon return home from rehabilitation.

Relevance to Aging

Restlessness in bed can be an indication of pain, particularly in older adults who are otherwise unable to communicate eg. Due to a terminal illness.

Description of Technology

A pressure sensor under the bed mattress that detect the frequency and magnitude of movements made in bed.

Goals of Research

To improve the detection and monitoring of pain in adults with communication barriers or those receiving pain therapy.

Relevance to Aging

Frail, older adults who spend a lot of time lying in the same position are at risk of developing pressure ulcers (also known as bedsores). Ulcers can develop quickly, and if infected can lead to serious illness and even amputation.

Description of Technology

A pressure sensor placed under the bed mattress is used to detect the frequency and magnitude of movements of limbs and torso while lying in bed.

Goals of Research

To reduce the risk of pressure ulcer development by signalling the caregiver to intervene if the sensor indicates that an older adult shows decreased bed mobility.

Relevance to Aging

Falls can result in serious injuries for older adults including hip, pelvic, and wrist fractures.  Injuries might trigger an extended hospital stay or placement in assisted living/long-term care.  Suffering a fall decreases walking confidence, leading to reduced mobility.

Description of Technology

Pressure sensitive flooring using ultra-wide band sensors and accelerometers measure speed, stride length and sway of individuals as they walk.

Goals of Research

To identify mobility changes at home, that may allow for early intervention to prevent falls and fractures.

To provide a health care team with information to ensure that upon returning home from rehabilitation their patient continues to maintain stable mobility patterns.

To provide the health care team with information  about patient mobility gains or declines upon return home from rehabilitation.

Relevance to Aging

Older adults with mobility challenges can benefit from the use of assistive devices like grab bars, transfer poles, and walkers. Sometimes they forget how to use these devices properly.

Description of Technology

Pressure sensors are mounted on grab bars, transfer poles, or walkers to measure the amount of pressure applied, relative pressure over time, and symmetry.

Goals of Research

To determine how older adults use mobility assistive devices.

To identify mobility changes and increased fall risks by analyzing changes in pressures applied to mobility devices.

MEMORY

Relevance to Aging

Night-time wandering is a common and worrying habit for persons with dementia, and can put them at risk of injury, or even death, if they leave the home. It can also cause sleep disruptions for caregivers.

Description of Technology

Motion, contact and bed sensors detects the sleeper’s movements and when they get out of bed. Analysis of the sensor’s data will determine night-time wandering patterns. If a person gets out of bed and starts to wander other technologies are activated – a night light turns on, a voice message encourages them to return to bed, or an alert is sent to the caregiver, if necessary.

Goals of Research

To provide appropriate visual and auditory cues to guide the person with dementia back to bed.

Relevance to Aging

A change in habits in the kitchen can indicate cognitive or physical decline in aging adults. Forgetting to close the fridge door can lead to food spoilage, and leaving the stove on is a fire hazard.

Description of Technology

Sensors that detect temperature, electrical current consumption, and contact can help identify potential risk situations. They can also record changes in a person’s behaviour that may indicate declining ability to perform kitchen tasks.

Goals of Research

To identify risks in a timely mannerand signal the adult to take corrective action, or alert a caregiver to intervene.

To notify a health care provider to the need  for an older adult to be assessed for functional decline if their typical pattern of appliance use changes.

Relevance to Aging

Memory and cognition may decline with age. Formal memory testing is stressful for older adults and some tests are not sensitive to individuals with dementia.

Description of Technology

Easy-to-use and enjoyable technology games based on familiar experiences (eg. “whack-a-mole” arcade game) are used to measure clinically-relevant brain ability, like reaction time and accuracy levels.

Goals of Research

To assess and monitor cognitive ability in older adults through the use of fun assessment tools.

To identify cognitive changes earlier through the development and validation of more accurate assessment tools.

Relevance to Aging

Driving is important for the independence and well-being of older adults. Advancing age can cause driving ability to decline and cognitive impairment exacerbates this.

Description of Technology

Sensors are placed inside the vehicle to measure location, speed, and driving actions such as the use of brakes and turn signals.

Goals of Research

To develop assessment tools that help clinicians evaluate driving risks.

To support older adults to continue driving for as long as safely possible.