Keeping grandma safe and healthy with biosensors

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Keeping grandma safe and healthy may someday be as simple as using a tiny sensor that can reliably track her movements. An Oregon Health & Science University professor recently received $300,000 from Intel Corporation to create new ways of using sensing technology to detect cognitive impairment and dementia in elderly adults. The technology may someday help seniors maintain their cognitive abilities and provide added peace of mind for family members worried about their loved one's health and well-being.

Misha Pavel, Ph.D., a professor in OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering, is the principal investigator of the three-year study that includes a multidisciplinary group of OHSU researchers. Pavel, Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D., professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and director of the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center at OHSU and the Portland VA Medical Center, and their team will use simple, intelligent biosensors to continuously and unobtrusively monitor seniors' movements. Early studies will be conducted at Elite Care, a private senior home in Milwaukie, Ore., and at Calaroga Terrace Retirement Community in northeast Portland.

During the study, the intelligent sensors -- equipped with sophisticated information processing and communication capabilities -- will be located in areas common to seniors, as well as within infrared badges worn by the Elite Care seniors involved.

"The sensors will constantly and quietly relay information to a computer that can help us reliably determine the regular movement of each senior within the project," said Pavel, an experimental psychologist in the OGI school's Department of Biomedical Engineering. "For example, if a senior who never takes a walk suddenly leaves the building, the sensor may be invaluable in alerting caregivers to a subtle, but important cognitive change, as well as avert a potential danger in the senior getting lost or harmed."

Pavel and his c

Contact: Sydney Clevenger
Oregon Health & Science University

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