Kinect Helping With Senior Health

Tiger Place, an independent living center in Missouri, uses technology such as Kinect to closely monitor seniors’ movement to help prevent functional decline that can lead to falls and decreased mobility. From Microsoft.

From a Microsoft press release, but still really interesting: a researcher is looking at using Kinect to track a senior citizen’s walking more regularly than the usual once or twice a year to make sure they’ve still got that pep in their step:

What if technology could help prevent falls, and in some cases even prolong lives?

Marilyn Rantz and her colleagues at the University of Missouri are researching just that, using Microsoft’s Kinect to measure and monitor subtle changes in the gait and movement of older people. Using technology to measure the way people walk more completely and daily, rather than at bi-yearly doctor’s appointments, can give healthcare professionals a chance to intervene sooner.

[Independent Living Center] Tiger Place focuses on monitoring its residents with a network of sensors placed in apartments, a monitoring network that now includes Kinect sensors in many rooms. What’s more, Tiger Place is an “age in place” facility, meaning seniors don’t have to move to different housing as they get older and require more assistance – the new services they need as they age are brought in to them, Rantz said.

Several apartments in Tiger Place have a Kinect mounted near the ceiling in the living room, where day after day the devices gather a mountain of data about the resident’s movement and motion.

Helping seniors is just one of a growing number of healthcare applications for Kinect.

Doctors are also using Kinect to help stroke patients regain movement. Surgeons are using it to access information without leaving the operating room and in the process sacrificing sterility. Healthcare workers are even using it to help with physical therapy and children with developmental disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Thus, the genesis of the so-called “Kinect Effect” – a term coined in the hallways and conference rooms of Microsoft to describe the device’s increasingly widespread appeal and diversity of uses.

Read the entire release at Kinect Effect Reaches Into Hospitals, Senior Centers.

I’m a huge fan of Kinect hacks, especially when a Kinect is modified to help people move better in their homes and everyday surroundings. It is relatively cheap compared to a lot of other medical equipment, and the hack is often fun to use as well as being practical.

anthropology · architecture · community

Vancouver BC improving urban living for its older residents

Crosswalk button ne.
Making cities safe for residents of all ages is a major step to creating a more lively, sustainable community. Image via Wikipedia

Great article in the Vancouver Sun about the city working to make urban living more conducive to older folks:

City planners, engineers, seniors and health researchers came together to discuss things such as pedestrian crosswalks, which often don’t allow enough time for a safe crossing, given that at many lights the halting hand starts to flash after just seven seconds.

“It takes all hands on deck,” said Heather McKay, director of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, referring to the necessity of collaboration when making infrastructure changes to the so-called “built environment.” That’s why the Vancouver Coastal Health centre helped organize the second annual research and community partnership symposium, called “If we build it, will they walk?”

Using a $1.5-million grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, McKay and her colleagues are examining factors that help make cities good places to grow older. Their goal is to identify the things that can prolong active and independent living, which will also help improve physical and emotional health, plus reduce dependency on the health care system.

Living in an urban environment makes a lot of sense for retired folks – easy access to public transportation, food, activities – as long as those resources are made accessible to their needs.

What other cities are making their spaces and infrastructure better for residents of all ages?