Improving Stroke Rehab Through Wearable Technologies
Although some of the excitement surrounding the introduction of technologies like Google Glass has subsided in recent years, a number of industries continue to explore many ways in which wearable technologies can improve service, efficiency, and overall productivity.

The healthcare industry, in particular, has been adamant about evaluating the possibilities for using wearable technologies to improve patient care. In a joint research initiative, the University of Waterloo and Pervasive Dynamics, the Canadian developer of medical devices, will work together to develop and test technologies that could significantly improve stroke rehabilitation.

The partnership will be part of the Advanced Aging ResearCH Center (ARCH) at Waterloo, and it will be aimed at improving rehabilitation services for older adults. According to Professor Bill McIlroy, the head of ARCH and a member of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Waterloo, “Advanced wearable sensors are the next generation of personalized health care. They enable us to gain insights that are just not available through off-the-shelf products”

Data Accrual

The wearable devices that will be tested at ARCH will assist in the gathering of critical, health-related patient data. Data will be collected pertaining to a stroke victim’s cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as patient’s balance and gait. The devices will then generate diagnostic reports tailored to the individual patient. These reports will provide substantive recommendations to help the patient through both physical and mental rehabilitation.

Muhammad Khan, founder and CEO of Pervasive Dynamics, explains the importance of wearable healthcare technologies well. “From the management of chronic disease, to fall prevention and mobility strategies, health wearables have the potential to make a huge difference for the elderly,” says Khan. “If we can get technologies like these in the hands of the public and practitioners,” he continues, “We can significantly reduce the impact and burden of an aging population on the Canadian healthcare system by providing clinicians with more data on which to base healthcare decisions.”

Preparing for the Future

According to some estimates, nearly eight million Canadian residents will be over the age of 65 by 2030. Older individuals are significantly more susceptible to stroke. In fact, it is currently the third leading cause of death across the country, and more than 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year.

In addition, statistics show that an excess of twenty percent of older Canadian adults will suffer serious falls each year. The costs of treatment for varying injuries sustained from falls can place a total burden of more than $2 billion on the Canadian healthcare system annually.

Fortunately, the need for improvement has already been identified and important partnerships are being formed to address this need. Helping older adults through the rehabilitation process is crucial to improving overall patient care for Canada’s elderly population.

“ARCH is focused on facilitating advances in therapies to slow down the trajectory of aging and reduce the risk of age-related injury and disease,” says McIlroy. “If we hope to reduce the impact of an aging population, we need to start now.”

After receiving a $1.3 million award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation back in May, ARCH has purchased a variety of diagnostic and measurement tools. The facility, which is one-of-a-kind in Canada, now houses the most comprehensive collection of equipment focused on aging in the country.

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Posted by: DSR
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Tag: Healthcare
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