Cogknow project for the dementia affected

Dementia refers to a combination of symptoms which includes impairments of memory, speech, thought, perception and reasoning. It is a common ailment among the elderlies of Europe, afflicting about 1.9 million elderly people in the continent. They tend to lead a muddled life, but now a pan-European research project is endeavouring to make a marked improvement in their quality of life. The project, named as CogKnow project, is funded under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The project, which commenced in September 2006, aims to be a breakthrough with research that addresses the needs of those with dementia, particularly those with mild dementia in Europe.

The University of Uster in the UK is the technical coordinator of this project, which is striving to develop tangible home-based solutions for persons who are plagued by memory loss problems. The role of the university will be to research and prototype assistive technologies for supporting people with memory loss; through providing easily recognizable prompts that would facilitate them to navigate through their day. Some of the other esteemed partners of this project include names like Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine, Belfast City Hospital, Telematica Instituut and Across Limits Technologies. The singular element of this innovative project is that here both patients and carers will provide their inputs to the design of the technology, a technology which will be discrete and user- friendly. Following the results of a first study where people with dementia described their unmet needs, the project partners have now commenced their work on a portable cognitive prosthetic device which will facilitate information, communication, safety and reminders. For example, the first function, currently in development, is called ‘picture dialling’, where the user need only to press a button with a picture on the device for a phone connection to be made to a carer or a member of the family. Another function being considered uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, for tracking the movements of patients and sending out an alarm, if they forget an appointment or their medicine. The aim of the project is to develop solutions that help ageing people with early dementia to experience greater autonomy and feelings of empowerment, and to enjoy an enhanced quality of life.

However, in its first year, the project will confine itself towards developing of this low-level technology with the aim of graduating to ambient intelligence and its enhanced possibilities, for contextual awareness and automated support functionalities.

Cogon Systems to develop clinical decision support tools for hand-held computers

U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) has awarded Cogon Systems, Inc. a research, development, test and uation contract to develop advanced clinical decision support tools for hand-held computer use. Here it deserves a mention that Cogon Systems, Inc. is a Florida-based healthcare software company, which is engaged in providing hospitals and community based organizations with leading edge information technology solutions. Cogon Systems raises the standard for patient safety and clinical efficiency through data integration and mobile technology.

The primary goal of the project is to determine if using mobile technology in an inpatient setting to deliver clinical decision support through rapid retri of clinical data, intelligently filtered clinical knowledge, and appropriately generated alerts and reminders, will positively impact patient care while concurrently achieving physician’s acceptance, efficiency and education. The project will rely upon technology provided by Cogon Systems Mobile MOMENT OF CARE(R) software application. Cogon’s product leverages data, already residing within a hospital’s inpatient information system, thus preserving existing infrastructure investments, and will serve as the foundation to which advanced clinical decision support modules will be appended.

The project’s overarching objective is applicable to all medical treatment facility or combat support hospitals.

The project’s beta site will be DeWitt Army Community Hospital, located at Fort Belvoir, VA and will run for a period of fifteen months. DeWitt’s Family Practice Residency is the second oldest family practice residency in the Army.

Brain-powered wheelchair in the offing

Researchers involved in the EU-funded project titled Mental Augmentation through Determination of Intended Action (MAIA), have shown how a person can control, using only his/her brain, the wheelchair on which he/she is sitting. This requires tapping into the person’s neural network, interpreting the cerebral signals in real time and then developing a mechanism that could respond to these instructions and steer the wheelchair with a high degree of accuracy. MAIA endeavours to develop non-invasive prosthesis, in particular, a brain-computer interface that recognizes the subject’s voluntary intent to do primitive motor actions on the order of milliseconds and conveys this intention to a robot that implements the necessary low-level details for achieving complex tasks.

Funded under the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the wheelchair is one of several non-invasive applications that could be controlled by the brain interface software, developed by researchers. Other applications include a robot for reaching and manipulation tasks, and handling emergency situations such as when the wheelchair or robot arm breaks down.

Human thoughts create impulses in specific areas of the brain. Simply thinking about moving left, for example, creates such an impulse. Using a portable electroencephalogram and electrodes placed on the scalp of a user, the brain interface picks up on these impulses, which are then digitised and analysed. The software is capable of distinguishing between different mental states that the user is experiencing. Sensors are also attached to the wheelchair in which the user is sitting, so that as it moves, it can perceive a doorway to its right or an obstacle ahead.

The project consortium has run several successful experiments, including two sets of trials involving users who were mentally able to drive the wheelchair in a maze-like corridor.

Intel’s endeavour to improve Lebanon’s e-Health

Following the announcement of a collaborative effort with other corporations to help revitalize Lebanon, Intel’s Chairman Craig Barrett has dedicated new projects to improve education, healthcare and computer access to the Internet for its citizens.”It’s gratifying to see concrete results at advancing the economic and social foundations of Lebanon thorough Intel’s work with the US and Lebanese private sectors,” said Barrett.

This collaborative initiative is titled ‘ Partnership for Lebanon.’ Barrett’s trip is the latest on behalf of the Partnership for Lebanon. Through this initiative, Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, GHAFARI Inc., Microsoft and Occidental Petroleum are providing critically needed resources to bring long term economic growth and stability to the country. Since the start of the program in 2006, the Partnership for Lebanon has supplied critical resources for reconstruction efforts. The group is focused on job creation, workforce training and education, rebuilding the country’s communications and computing capabilities, providing connectivity to communities and government, and responding to crisis.

As part of the programme, Intel is installing state-of-the-art wireless networks to accelerate the use of technology and high-speed computer connections to access the vast knowledge resources of the Internet. WiMAX systems are getting deployed at two hospitals, one school and two community centers in Burj Al Barajneh, Nabatiyeh, and Beirut. The longer-range wireless technology is considered a more efficient way to bring connectivity to rugged and remote areas, less suited for installing cable or phone wires.

Among other things, Intel’s development work in Lebanon also involves the health sector of the country. At a stop in Beirut, Barrett announced that Intel is increasing technical and doctor training support for a telemedicine program at one of Lebanon’s top hospitals- American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC)- and the Nabatiyeh Governmental Hospital in Nabatiyeh.

The telemedicine systems provide the hospitals with real-time video consultation between physicians kilometers apart, the ability to share data and to diagnose patients from afar. Without telemedicine, Nabatiyeh citizens needing a specialist would have to travel to Beirut, a trip that can be long and arduous.

“The Nabatiyeh-Beirut Telemedicine Program could not come at a better time,” said Dr. Nadim Cortas, Vice President for Medical Affairs, and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the American University of Beirut Medical Center.

The innovation gives local doctors the ability to access the latest medical data and get second opinions from specialists and medical centers, located hundreds of kilometers away.

Israeli device enables mobility in cardiac data

This can be music to the ears of cardiac patients. A team of Israeli scientists have introduced a portable electrocardiograph machine, which through mobile phone, can transmit highly detailed data on heart activity to physicians. The electrocardiograph is named as CardioSen’C. SHL, the Israeli company, has developed the CardioSen’C machine to provide heart activity through mobile phone.The CardioSen’C can help in the diagnoses of arrhythmia, ischemia and myocardial infarction.

Patients can use the CardioSen’C, by attaching 12 electrodes to their chest and upper body and strapping the battery-powered unit on the front of their chest. Automatic digital transmission enables the electrocardiograph (ECG) to transmit the highest quality data at a high speed to the patient’s cardiologist, enabling instant diagnosis. The machine is small in size, so readings can be taken virtually anywhere. The unit is automatically connected through digital mobile phone to a medical control centre. The company has also developed a system, named double transmission monitoring, which enables the control centre to direct the operation of the ECG and the transmission, and download of data by remote control.   Thanks to this innovative machine, the cardiac patients will be able to travel in the near future without the nagging apprehension of being away from the doctor or clinic. With CardioSen’C, they will themselves be able to measure their cardiac condition and if need be, could immediately contact their doctor for expert opinion, who will be reading the data in real time. Through this machine, patients who are suffering, recovering or recuperating from heart disease, or patients who feel they are vulnerable to cardiac problems, are now in a position to measure their heart activity.

SHL plans to market the CardioSen’C first in Israel, followed by Europe. The company plans to market the unit later in the United States.

Gates Foundation grant for IDRC for fighting vector-borne diseases

IDRC has received a project support grant from the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the Foundation). The grant of US$997,397 over a three-year period, will support ecohealth research on communicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the first grant of IDRC from the Foundation. IDRC’s research program on the use of ecosystems approaches to human health in Latin America and the Caribbean focuses on controlling and preventing communicable, vector-borne diseases, notably Chagas disease, dengue, and malaria. The ecology and transmission of these diseases, which disproportionately affect the poor, are closely related to environmental resource mismanagement and social interactions.

The Foundation grant will enable IDRC to fund up to eight projects to tackle these diseases, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, and the Pan American Health Organization. The projects will be selected on the basis of scientific merit and relevance from 11 proposals, now being developed by multi-disciplinary teams. The winning projects will be announced by May 7, 2007.


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