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Imperial College London researchers developing tech to monitor dementia patients at home

Published on 17/04/19 at 11:55am

Researchers at Imperial College London are hard at work developing technology to aid the lives of dementia patients in their own homes with the goal of increasing their independence and avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospital.

The technology, which includes in-ear and wearable sensors, sleep monitors and robotic devices, could be usable within five years and could become the standard for patients with dementia. While not all of these tools are new and some of it exists already, the plan is now to extend their use into the daily lives of those living with dementia.

Researchers at London’s new £20 million Care Research & Technology Centre are at work developing an in-ear electroencephalogram (EEG) device which monitors a patient’s fluctuations in brain activity and tracks their movements around the home using radar technology. These sensors could detect the presence of behavioural abnormalities which could pre-empt a potential hospital admission, such as increased body temperature as the result of an infection, or a change in walking pattern which could lead to a fall.

These technologies will be tested and evaluated for their utility and practicality by dementia patients to ensure they are fit for purpose.

The project will be based at Imperial College London, conducted in collaboration with the University of Surrey, and funded by the UK Dementia Research Institute’s three founding members: the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“The vision for this centre is to use patient-centred technology to help people affected by dementia to live better and for longer in their own homes,” explained Professor David Sharp, Neurologist at Imperial College London and Head of the new centre. “Latest figures suggest one in four hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia – and 20% of these admissions are due to preventable causes such as falls, dehydration and infections. The new technologies we develop will improve our ability to support people in their homes. They will allow us to intervene at an early stage, to prevent the crises that so often lead to hospital stays, or a move to a care home. What’s more, we’ll be able to improve our understanding of dementia onset and progression.”

Matt Fellows

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