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2008 Grants - Mihailidis
Toward a Pervasive Prompting System: Improving and Expanding the COACH
Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D.
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2008 Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer Care
Older adults with Alzheimer's disease are often unable to independently complete daily self-care activities, such as washing their hands or teeth. The solution to this is usually that the caregiver stands with the person during these tasks and reminds him or her of each step that needs to be completed. This dependence can be difficult for the older adult to accept and can overburden the caregiver.
Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a technological solution to this problem with an automated prompting system called the COACH. They successfully tested the COACH on older adults with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease who were prompted while washing their hands at a long-term care facility.
The group now wants to expand on the technology so that it can help with more tasks in people's homes. To do this, they need to improve the system's sensing, planning and response modules. They will work on the ability of the system to sense both a person's fine-motor movements, like hand washing, as well as overall body movements so the system knows what task the person is trying to complete, such as tooth brushing versus hand washing.
The researchers will also work to improve speech recognition and artificial intelligence so the system can respond to questions and utterances by users while they're completing their task.
Once the system is developed, the researchers will study its efficacy during hand washing and another activity, such as tooth brushing, in several people's homes with the goal of allowing older adults with Alzheimer's disease to live more independently and remove some of the burden from their caregivers.