Robots’ largely positive, somewhat equivocal role in therapy for children with autism and cerebral palsy (HIMSS)

A Georgia Tech study presented at this week’s HIMSS19 conference presented findings of an eight-week study of children with specific neurological conditions who were assisted by robotics in specific therapies for movement and cognition. The study began with the simple attraction of children to robots. Robots also don’t have the negative connotations of therapists, and in fact, based on the studies cited, robots  are more trusted than humans by both adults and children.

For a child, robots ‘repetitive and predictable interactions’ can be reassuring (like Pepper in a Belgium hospital two years ago) , along with ‘gamified’ therapies and child-robot direct interaction as well as therapist-guided. The study’s approaches took several forms:

  • Virtual reality therapy games
  • Guided physiotherapy in movement–gross and fine motor skills
  • Cognitive therapy to improve attention span
  • ‘Gamified’ therapy
  • Robot therapy coaching
  • Tablet-based games

At the start of the study, physical and cognitive baselines were taken and retested at four weeks. By eight weeks the difference in movement parameters between normally developing children and those with cerebral palsy had largely equalized. In a second study, when the robots were withdrawn, their improvement decreased, but not back to baseline. The researchers’ concern was of course, dependency on the robots for therapy on a long term basis. HIMSS presentation by Ayanna Howard, professor of robotics at Georgia Tech is currently online–view quickly as usually they are withdrawn shortly after HIMSS is over.  Mobihealthnews

Digital health supporting daily living with autism

A developing area for healthcare tech is in the assistive technology (AT) area–in this instance to support those with autism. The spectrum of abilities and capabilities here is very wide–as are the needs. Some major challenges: organization, communication, managing stress levels, managing transitions in everyday living as a college student with autism must. Last week’s Autech 2015 at Old Trafford, Manchester spotlighted AT such as Brain in Hand, a smartphone/tablet app that touches on all three: it helps with planning daily activities, logging stress levels, providing help with coping strategies and if it is overwhelming, a direct connection to a support worker at the Wirral Autistic Society. Other promising technology includes biometric wristbands to monitor signs of stress and provide feedback to identify and work to modify the autistic person’s reactions; the Kaspar assistance robot for socializing children; the Proloquo2go tablet app which speaks for those without speech by using speech-producing icons. AT for the autistic is at the very early part of the development curve, but this Editor could see dual or triple uses for these technologies for those with TBI, stroke or dementia. Studies on cost savings are early, but the Brain in Hand test in Devon estimated a 100-200x savings: £300-500/week for social care versus £20/week for the service (but does this include the live support worker?) There’s an app for that: how assistive tech changes lives of people with autism (Guardian)

Related: on a late adult diagnosis of autism, how it is to live with it on your own (Guardian)

ELabNYC Pitch Day 2015

Thursday 3 April, Microsoft’s NY Technology Center, Times Square NYC

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Elab.png” thumb_width=”100″ /]The third annual Pitch Day for the now 20 startup/early-stage life science, biotech and healthcare technology companies in the ELabNYC (Entrepreneurship Lab Bio and Health Tech NYC) is a culmination of their year-long program participation in this NY Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)-supported program. The entrepreneurs in the ELabNYC program primarily come from from the doctoral and post-doc programs from New York’s many universities, from CUNY to Columbia, from many parts of the world, and most have experience within the city’s multitude of major health research institutions from The Bronx to Brooklyn. New York is also a center of funding for life science and health tech ventures; it’s #2 with NIH awards totaling $1.4 billion. For the past few years, NYEDC has also supported these companies with finding access to capital, specialized space (e.g. wet labs such as the million square feet at Alexandria Center alone, plus Harlem Biospace and SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn) and partnerships with major companies such as Celgene, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and GE Ventures.

This Editor will concentrate on health tech companies–eight, up from five last year [TTA 17 Apr 14]. Each company pitched for five minutes on its concept, its current state of advancement (including pilots/customers), its team and a funding timeline. It was a very different mix from last year’s class, which focused on compliance, diagnosis, dementia and concussion. These companies focused on niches which are either not being served well or to substantially reduce costs. Nearly half the entrepreneurs were women, a substantially greater number than one usually sees in the biotech/health tech area. Short impressions on our eight, with links to their Executive Summaries on the 2014-15 ‘class page’: (more…)

Helping the ‘beleaguered caregiver’

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/60344-1-lg.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Medication organizing/sharing apps, geotracking, learning programs and texting are helping caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, heart conditions and autism better cope with family conditions.   The National Alzheimer Center, a division of Hebrew Home at Riverdale in Bronx, NY, developed the Balance $3.99 app that has multiple features: Pill Box (med management), Learning (sharing info about the disease), Caregiving, Schedule (sharing calendars), Doctor Diary (tracking physical and emotional changes in the patient and sharing them with the doctor/s) and News (Arutz Sheva/Israel National News; release with photos). Available currently on iTunes; Android version to come. The Alzheimer’s Association offers Comfort Zone, which uses GPS to track the person with Alzheimer’s within a pre-set geographic area, for about $43 a month. For heart patients, Mended Hearts will be starting a program of texted tips for caregivers. Autism Speaks has collected learning websites and apps for tablets which families have used successfully with autistic children, and has given away over 800 to low-income families.  None are pricey, all serve growing populations–and none will generate buzz at industry cocktail parties. Beleaguered caregivers getting help from apps (SacBee/AP)