Innovation for toilet relocation to ease access for frail elderly at home & Wearable caregiver posture coaching feedback system

Read more about HTIG2014-07 and HTIG2014-11.

Innovation for toilet relocation to ease access for frail elderly at home

The ability to get on and off the toilet can mean the difference between living at home and having to move into long-term care for frail older adults. Osteoarthritis, affecting over 7 million people in the US and Canada, is very common in those who are frail, making it difficult for them to use a standard-height toilet. 

In addition, bathrooms do not typically provide extra space around a toilet to allow caregivers to position themselves to assist safely or to allow for wheelchair or walker users to transfer onto the toilet while maintaining support of their assistive devices. This is why we proposed to develop a device which would allow the toilet to be repositioned in the bathroom to make it more accessible, in addition to raising the height of the toilet. In its new position, there is enough space beside the toilet for a caregiver to stand and help with toileting activities without having to adopt extreme postures.

Wearable caregiver posture coaching feedback system

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 uses two accelerometer-based sensors (Dublin, Ireland) connected via Bluetooth to an Android phone, all of which were embedded into a wearable vest.

Tilak Dutta, PhD is a Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and he currently leads the Home and Community Team. He holds Assistant Professor appointments with the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering the University of Toronto. He completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto focused on preventing back injury in healthcare workers. The ultimate goal of all his work is give older adults and their caregivers the tools and knowledge they need to age successfully in their own homes.