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September 14, 2011

Xbox for seniors

Daily Briefing

    Motion sensors, like those used in Microsoft's Xbox 360 Kinect, effectively detect early illness onset and fall risks in seniors, according to recent University of Missouri (UM) research.  

    In recent months, motion-sensor technology has emerged as a tool that could reshape hospital processes and patient therapy. By allowing systems to recognize and detect movement, the sensors can have various health applications, including creating 3-D maps and patient observing behaviors.

    In one UM study, researchers used Kinect to monitor behavior and routine changes in elderly patients in Columbia, Mo. The system—which relies on a depth-sensing camera that projects a grid of intra-red beams—allowed the staff to monitor patterns to assess improvements and declines in behavior and health conditions.

    In a second UM study, researchers created a fall detection system using Doppler radar. The system identifies changes in body movements that could signal an increased fall risk—falls involve a series of body part motions, allowing the radar to recognize distinct fall signatures based on movement patterns.

    Both systems used computer networks and wireless technology to alert clinicians when movement patterns suggested that patients required assistance or medical intervention. Ultimately, the researchers hope to provide continuous in-home assessment for seniors that would detect early changes in movement. They also hope to connect the systems to electronic health records (Lewis, InformationWeek, 9/12). 

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