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'User-friendly' health monitoring for the elderly at home

11 June 2013

A safer and healthier old age – that is the aim of GiraffPlus, an international project led by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden.

The GiraffPlus system can monitor and visualise activities and a set of physical parameters, such as blood glucose levels and blood pressure

With a focus on developing sophisticated aids for the elderly in close collaboration with the intended users, researchers are now about to test the new technology in real homes, following a test run in a demonstration apartment in Örebro.

Using a network of sensors in the home, GiraffPlus continuously monitors an elderly person’s health. These sensors measure blood pressure and body temperature, register movements and detect if someone is lying still for an unusually long period of time, or takes a sudden fall.

The information is analysed by an intelligent system, which is designed to alert carers in emergencies, but it can also be used for long-term assessment of the patient’s health.

The system is also able to chart an individual’s sleeping pattern by measuring the person's level of activity during the night.

At the heart of GiraffPlus is a remote controlled mobile robot, equipped with a display and loudspeaker. Using this, carers are able to 'visit' the patient to discuss and plan care measures based on the information that has been registered by the system.

Only those that the user has approved will have access to the system and no information will be forwarded without the patient’s consent. The goal is to create a user-friendly system, offering services that are perceived as straightforward and of great value, while increasing the users’ sense of security and improving their quality of life.

Professor Silvia Coradeschi at the robotics research centre AASS at Örebro University, is coordinating the project, and Anette Forsberg is overseeing the primary healthcare aspects of the project.

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