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P9. Assistive technologies II

Detailed Programme, abstracts and presentations

P9. Assistive technologies II (Friday, 5 October, 16.00-17.30, Europa 3)

P9.1. Artificial neural network based system to assist the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. Towards a cognitive screening system

J.M. Martínez-García, C.P. Suárez-Araujo, P. García-Báez, M.A. Pérez del Pino and C. Fernández-Viadero

Alzheimer Disease (AD) and other dementias are one of the public health challenges mainly because of the relation between the population longevity and the pathology incidence increase. Furthermore, the first symptoms appear several years after the disease beginning and the progression of the cognitive decline rises over time. Therefore, it is necessary to accomplish a diagnosis at the earliest possible stage, since the subject shows a slight impairment in some cognitive function. The detection of this state termed Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a complex task in medicine. It is difficult to discriminate between the symptoms of this state from the normal brain aging and there is not a diagnostic criteria agreement.

In order to delve into the MCI neuropathology knowledge, the influence of the assessment in the diagnosis and to assist the physician decision-making with MCI diagnostic process, we have evaluated the performance of the Artificial Neural Networks (ANN’s) in MCI diagnosis, using a Counterpropagation-based system. The Counterpropagation network (CPN) is a hybrid neural network composed of a non-supervised hidden layer implemented by a Kohonen’s network and a simple perceptron as supervised output layer. The information environment used has been different cognitive and functional screening assessment tests, demographic data and education level, from a cohort of subjects recruited from the dependence care unit for the elderly of Santander (Cantabria, Spain), with a high imbalanced character. Because of the complexity involved in the MCI diagnosis, the amount of MCI subjects is very small compared to the number of non-MCI individuals. The imbalanced data has a strong influence on classifiers, causing a significative performance reduction due to the skew of class distribution. Hence we have also developed a novel over-sampling method based on Sanger neural network to generate more samples of the minority class, obtaining a new balanced-class training dataset and we have tested it getting successful results in combination with the CPN. We present in this paper a neural computation based system to face an imbalanced data classification problem, the MCI diagnosis, dealing with a bimodal diagnosis of the disease. Finally, an analysis of the relevance of the input variables has been made in order to categorize the contribution of each one in the diagnosis of MCI.

The proposed CPN based system has shown successful rates, suggesting our intelligent computational scheme as a suitable approximation to build also computer-aided systems for differential diagnosis of MCI and AD.

P9.2. Assistive technologies in dementia care: Opportunities and barriers

Inger Hagen, Ph.D.

Assistive technologies (AT) and tele-based services can support people with dementia to manage daily tasks, their safety and security, as well as activity, pleasure and social relationships (1-3). The cost-effectiveness of introducing AT has been demonstrated, even to the extent that it may delay or prevent admission into care or avoid unnecessary hospital admission. (2). Similar conclusions were drawn from the trials and cost-benefit analysis carried out in the ENABLE project (4). The early ASTRID project reported a lack of awareness of the potential of technology to assist people with dementia, and that none main parties concerned had yet appreciated the potential (5). The later Nordic project (3) reached similar conclusions and also emphasized the need for methods and instruments to carry out the user needs analysis, and that more knowledge about what AT are available and appropriate for the person (3). In addition, cost is a barrier for the efficient use of AT in countries where people have to pay themselves, since AT are made in relatively small quantities, and therefore do not have the advantage of large scale production. ICT-based applications designed to support people with dementia and their caregivers may represent new possibilities in the field of AT. A growing number of Europeans have access to internet, and relatively cheap, mass-produced tablet PCs with touch screen are available. In the Mylife project (6), we have taken advantage of this situation by transforming available services such as calendar and photo album and present them in a user friendly way on a tablet PC. The content is managed by an informal caregiver. Content management is done from a PC with internet connection. A prototype version of the Mylife service is now being tried out by elderly people with reduced cognitive abilities and their caregivers in England, Germany and Norway. Recruitment to the study in Norway was done by advertisement in an Oslo-based newspaper.  Respondents were invited to an information meeting where the project was presented and the Mylife service demonstrated. Eleven people with reduced memory (age 65 – 90 years) and their helpers (spouses, children or grandchildren) participate in the trial in Norway. Inclusion criteria included memory problems for at least 6 months and that the person has at least one caregiver with access to the internet. Preliminary results from seven of the participants having tried the Mylife service for 1 month showed that most of them found the application easy to use. The group will try the service for 2 months after which the experience and recommendations from the participants will be taken into account to improve the service. During the autumn, participants will have the opportunity to try the service for another period. The presentation will report on the effect on the users’ wellbeing and ability to keep track of days and appointments after the first 2 months trial.

P9.3. A Lifelong Learning Program:  “We are family! - Mobile Communications of Seniors among Generations”

P. Ζoi, E. Dimakopoulou, D.Kavouridi, T. Krassakis, A. Efthymiou, K. Nikolaou, B.F. Huebner, R. Wallner, A.K.Skibelund, W.H. Huber

Introduction: “We are family! - Mobile Communications of Seniors among Generations" was funded by the Lifelong Learning Program ‘’Grundtvig’’ and carried out by a consortium of organizations from Germany, Denmark, Austria and Greece. In this project experts exchange experiences and best-practice examples of seniors’ usage of mobile media in several EU countries, aiming to discover the needs, desires, obstacles and reasons for avoiding this technology among elderly population. Generally, seniors are at risk of being excluded and isolated from the progress of modern technologies.

Athens Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (AAADRD), the Greek Partner of the consortium, has focused on the integration of mobile media into everyday life of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by developing a training program tailored to the needs of this population.

Method: 20 people with MCI, users of the Dementia Day Care Centre of AAADRD participated in one-hour workshop once a week for 13 weeks. The sessions consisted of presentations and practice on the basic use of Tablet PCs, use of Internet (how to create an email account, how to send and receive emails).

Results: To evaluate the effectiveness of the program questionnaires were administered pre- and post-intervention, assessing mood, quality of life and sociability of participants. Data collected were analyzed by SPSS 17.0.

Conclusions: Results and possible implications of the program for future intervention are discussed.

P9.4. Smart assistive technology for improving seniors’ indoor and outdoor mobility. The MobileSage project

Luiza Spiru, Alexandru Sterea, Alice Petrescu, Gratiela Baidac, Mona Blacioti, Raluca Moraru, Mariana Martin, Mircea Marzan, Ileana Turcu

Introduction: Modern elderly live longer, are healthier, more active, mobile and independent. They are increasingly looking for useful, easy-to-use and highly personalized ICT services, able to improve their quality of life and to help them to stay active despite various impairments. The MobileSage project provides a timely approach and solution in this field, in accordance with the AAL Joint Programme imperatives ( to extend the time people can live in their preferred environment by increasing their autonomy, self-confidence and mobility, to support maintaining health and functional capability of the elderly individuals, to promote a better and healthier lifestyle for individuals at risk, to enhance the security, to prevent social isolation, to support carers, families and care organizations and to increase the efficiency and productivity of used resources in the ageing societies.

Project description: The MobileSage multinational and multidisciplinary project runs between 2011-2013, under the coordination of Norsk Regnesentral (Oslo, Norway) and in partnership with medical and technical partners from Romania, Spain and UK. The concept of this project was to provide mildly sensory and/or cognitively impaired elderly people with context-sensitive, personalized and location-sensitive tools capable of allowing them the fulfillment of everyday tasks and the improvement of their independence and mobility, including in transportation and travel problems. The main objective of the project is the creation of a personal agent on a highly personalized smart phone, able to provide ‘help-on-demand’ services at home and while traveling. These end-user benefits are paralleled by several benefits for the society, either in the area of seniors’ inclusion or in the area of reducing the care burden of seniors with mild sensory and/or cognitive special needs.

Actual project’s outcomes: Important milestones such as end-user profiling and specifications, technical and functional specifications as well as the assessment of end-users’ compliance to such smart technology were already realized. Among the projects’ partners our Ana Aslan International Foundation share its expertise in assisting old people with physical and especially cognitive special needs, and is one of the pilots for prototype assessment and validation with Romanian end-users.  

Lessons learned: The main important lesson is that despite the general perception that old people may face real difficulties in adapting to such smart devices these people are actually opened to this kind of help, understand the benefits and consider that the smart technology applications actually deserve the effort and patience to adapt to them. Other important lesson learned resides in the area of the ethical issues related to end-users involvement and human-machine compliance, which are discussed in the end of this presentation.

P9.5. Developing Technology in the support of people with dementia, their carers and professionals

Peter J.S. Ashley

This presentation outlines the use of existing technology in both known and potential applications; technology that is aimed at aiding people with dementia and their carers in their daily lives be they living at home or in a care home situation. The aim is not just to talk about what has been loosely referred to as “Assistive Technology”, but applications that can help improve the processes of cognitive and intellectual impairment thus bring fully meaning to the word “Assistive”. It will also briefly introduce future technological developments that could have a significant impact on the ongoing wellbeing of those who encounter the traumas of the dementia syndrome.

There are exciting new and revolutionary developments now in the hands of researcher and once available they will have a significant impact on this subject. Unlike drug developments, technology is relatively quick to appear and cross fertilization with other market opportunities is only constrained by the imagination of those who understand both the technology and the needs of those with dementia.

As this is such a broad topic heading it will only be possible to 'dip' into this area in the short time available but it is hoped it will stimulate healthy debate with the audience in the question time part of the presentation opening up the door to much lateral thinking and productive debate.

The presenter draws on the work of others and their work and copyright is fully acknowledged throughout.

As a person living with Dementia with Lewy Bodies for the last 12 years, and a former company director and engineer the presenter knows only too well how technology has aided his own survival.

The combined efforts of all disciplines needs to be brought to bear on the subject if the otherwise hidden potential of technology is to be used to the maximum effect for the benefit of all people with dementia and their carers. Also to point researcher in the areas of technology to the enormous needs of this sector of the community worldwide.



Last Updated: Thursday 15 November 2012