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Technology and health care for the elderly medical research studies

Focus on strategic priorities that have significant social impact.

HTIG 2014-11

Wearable Caregiver Posture Coaching Feedback System

The Wearable Caregiver Posture Coaching System was tested with both Saint Elizabeth personal support workers and family caregivers in real home environments, and was used to engage and empower caregivers of the seriously ill and frail elderly.

Research Results

Project findings and information will be updated on a continual basis.

About the Project

Even personal support workers who receive training on body mechanics and client handling sustain back injuries at the highest rates of any industry. Thus, there is a need to provide caregivers with better tools to reduce the risk of injury. One such tool that we have prototyped is a wearable system that provides real-time feedback to warn caregivers when they bend or twist too far. This system is designed to provide feedback that is similar to the type of coaching an athlete would receive when training for a sport.

The goal of our Wearable Caregiver Posture Coaching Feedback System was to assist caregivers in performing their tasks safely to reduce the amount and severity of injuries sustained during care-related tasks. The tool, which is in the final prototyping stage, used two Shimmer accelerometer-based sensors (Dublin, Ireland) connected via Bluetooth to an Android phone, all of which were embedded into a wearable vest. Two sensors provided upper and lower back posture while the Android App collected and processed the position data to provide immediate spine-related posture feedback to the wearer, with this feedback being derived from evidence-based health and safety guidelines.

The purpose of the proof-of-concept study was to determine if the use of the Coaching System could improve caregiver body-mechanics, and if the change in behaviour was retained once feedback is turned off.

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Tilak Dutta, PhD, PEng -- Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network

Project Contact: Tilak Dutta -- tilak.dutta@uhn.ca

HTIG 2014-11