Researchers investigate hi-tech solutions to help patients get more out of their assistive technology

Leading research Universities, including Kent (led by John Batchelor from EDA) are set to collaborate on a project to improve the support mobility patients receive after leaving clinics.

Adaptive, Assistive Rehabilitative Technology: Beyond the Clinic (AART-BC) will develop a platform to monitor the use of assistive technology (AT) and compliance with rehabilitation programmes (RP) and support the patient outside of the clinic.

Mobility issues currently affect 6% of 16-44 year olds and up to 55% of 75+ year olds in the UK.

The researchers, led by Professor Christopher James from the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering, will use a combination of off-the-shelf sensors, coupled with novel Smart Watch technology, and unobtrusive “tattoo” sensors – designed and developed to be cheap, disposable and unobtrusive.

The Smart Watch technology, developed by the University of Warwick, is designed to monitor active daily living over prolonged periods, especially as the patient interacts with their assistive technology.
The smart tattoo sensors, developed by the University of Kent, can be attached to the patient (or the technology) to give further information on usage. The research will arget three patients groups primarily: wheelchair and prosthetic users, and the elderly.
The SenseWheel, developed by University College London, will be combined with the novel sensing platform to obtain information on wheel-chair usage, whereas for prosthesis users and the elderly the novel sensing platforms with measure their daily living over time, as well as when they are doing any specific exercise regimes.

The research will target three patients groups primarily: wheelchair and prosthetic users, and the elderly.

“AART-BC will focus on the development of a platform to monitor the use of AT and compliance with RP and support the patient outside of the clinic. We will do so by collecting data unobtrusively and monitor how patients use their assistive technology, and also to measure how they follow exercise advice at home”, says Professor James.

“Currently there is no picture of what happens after a patient leaves the clinic. Anecdotally, using equipment or doing exercise incorrectly can lead to more complex health problems”.

Supported by £1.86m of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, AART-BC will involve the Universities of Warwick, Cardiff, Kent, Salford, York, Oxford Brookes and University College London.

The researchers aim to use the collected information to benefit patients and enable them to leave hospital sooner and enable clinicians and medical technologists to understand conditions and improve or adjust the design of equipment for patients.