Tel Aviv University and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center researchers are treating stroke patients with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), high-pressure chambers where oxygen-rich air increases oxygen levels in the body by a factor of ten. Their goal is to reinvigorate dormant neurons and improve patients’ motor function, memory and other abilities that current therapies do not address.
The researchers are studying the potential benefits of HBOT for traumatic brain injury, and as an anti-aging therapy, applicable to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia patients.
Already popular in Japan, today’s New York Times reports on the developing trend of robotic companions for the elderly.
A typical Japanese example is the Tsukuba University created Hybrid Assistive Limb. The battery-powered suit senses and amplifies the wearer’s muscle action when carrying or lifting heavy objects. Caregivers can also use the suit to aid them while lifting patients from a bed, and patients can wear it to support their movements. Other Japanese devices include a small, battery-powered trolley to aid independent walking; a portable, self-cleaning bedside toilet; and a monitoring robot which tracks and reports the location of dementia patients.
The Times describes several interesting US developed robots: Cody, a Georgia Tech created robotic nurse cable of bathing patients; HERB, a Carnegie Mellon developed butler which retrieves objects and cleans; Hector, a University of Reading robot which provides medication reminders, locates lost objects, and can assist in a fall; and Paro, a baby seal looking robot which calms dementia patients.
AdhereTech bottles measure the exact amount of pills or liquid they contain in real-time. The data is sent wirelessly into the cloud, and patients are reminded to take their medication via an automated call or text message.
Proteus Digital Health is creating a new category of products, services and data systems that have the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of existing pharmaceutical treatments. Called Digital Medicines, these new pharmaceuticals will contain a tiny sensor that can communicate, via a digital health feedback system, vital information about an individual’s medication-taking behavior and how their body is responding.
Google Glass applications can benefit the aging population in many ways:
– Sensors can track a person’s gait, and identify mobility problems that signal a potential fall and broken bones. Early warning signs can trigger preventative treatments and healthcare providers could try stop a fall before it happens.
– Reminders for taking medication can be scheduled and double dosing prevented.
– For those suffering from dementia, the device could recognize family members and offer simple messages such as, “This is your son, his name is John. Say, “Hello John, how are my beautiful grandchildren?”
– Google Glass-type devices could enable family members to patch into what seniors are doing, even what they are seeing. If there were a problem, emergency aid would be on the way in seconds.
Lively is an in-home sensor network for connecting elderly loved ones to their families. The system combines a series of wireless sensors, a data-collection hub and biweekly printed mailers that serve as kind of an analog social network. The basic setup measures medication compliance, food and drink intake and general activity outside the home.
Lively is crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with a goal of $100,000.