'Smart Home' Tools Help Injured Warfighters

Press Contact:Communications-703-299-4800communications@samueliinstitute.org

Irvine, CA - August  26, 2013

SmartHomeGroup

Samueli Institute and University of California Irvine (UCI) Calit2’s eHealth Collaboratory are developing “smart home” tools for health, wellness, healing and recovery. The tools are specifically designed for veterans and active-duty Service members with traumatic brain injuries and other war-related trauma. The system includes in-home devices and applications to evaluate, rehabilitate and monitor those with post-traumatic stress, brain injuries and stroke. 

Mark Bachman is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UCI and the director of the eHealth Collaboratory. He explained that the system is based around a television and a console operated with a standard remote. By pressing the remote a patient can bring up whatever health application is appropriate for use at that time.

“The smart home environment is a place where researchers can bring current and future technology into a common platform,” said Bachman, “It’s an opportunity for technology to change the world through health care.”
While similar systems have been implemented in hospitals and clinics across the country, Bachman said bringing it home requires the technology be accessible, easy to use, seamless and integrated into consumer-level electronics. 

“These tools are not only designed around enhancing balance and dexterity,” said Samueli Institute’s Senior Director for Health Information Technology and Data Management William Beckner, “They also add an element of fun.”

The integrated applications include the Music Glove, Stability Sole, Balance World, an exer-gaming system and the ability to track your weight and blood pressure.

Music Glove is a sensor-laden glove used for brain injury or stroke rehabilitation. The wearer moves his or her fingers in time with the on-screen visuals to improve range of motion in impaired fingers. All progress is logged and delivered to the doctor in real time. 

Stability Sole tracks a patient’s gait and balance. Balance World builds upon that technology and uses a connect system to track body movement while playing a game to exercise and train leg and core muscles and improve balance and gait. This technology is designed to reduce falls and broken bones as well as improve mobility in patients confined to the home.

The exer-gaming system transforms typical exercise into a video game by implanting a machine, such as an elliptical or stationary bike, with sensors. The goal is to motivate patients to exercise by allowing the user to focus on the game rather than the movement. 

“The current revolution in health apps and in-home tools can empower Service members to take charge of their health and well-being while bridging the information-care gap between doctors and patients,” said Beckner, “Even in a country with some of the best medical care in the world, we can do better—and human-centric mobile and in-home technologies can play a significant role.”

The console is in the beta-testing phase as researchers explore options to further develop the system and make it available to patients. 

This work is funded by a $200,000 grant to Calit2 and is a sub-award under the Brain Injury Disease Management Initiative, an Office of Naval Research-funded grant to Samueli Institute. 

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