Application of a Tactile Way-Finding Device to Facilitate Navigation in Persons With DementiaBy Grierson, Lawrence E.M.; Zelek, John; Lam, Isabel; Black, Sandra E.; Carnahan, Heather; Assistive Technology, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 108-115
Publication Date: 2011
Study assessed the applicability of a wearable navigational aid to individuals with way-finding difficulties associated with dementia. The device used is a belt that is integrated with global positioning, three axis compass, inertial sensor, power management, battery, and algorithmic executive processor technologies. It operates to provide the wearer with directional cues through 4 small vibrating motors aligned to the front, back, left, and right positions of the wearer’s torso. As wearers travel, the system monitors their progress and updates the directional cues in real time until they have arrived at their destination. Bluetooth bidirectional networking allows users to upload desired destinations and area maps. The system is unique in that it does not require the use of vision or hands. The navigational aid was tested with 12 community dwelling seniors aged 61 to 87 years with cognitive impairment including Alzheimer’s disease, of whom 6 were women and 10 completed all trials. Participants walked a series of 4 routes with 24 waypoints through the corridors of a hospital while wearing the belt. Participants displayed a few deficiencies in attending to the directional signals, leading to way-finding errors in which the signal was ignored and the intended turn not made. Participants’ mean ratings of the belt’s ease of use and comfort, on a 5 point Likert scale, were high at 4.9 and 4.5, respectively. Recommendations for modifying the system of signal delivery to direct the wearer’s focus more prominently to the vibrotactile stimulus are discussed.
Published by: Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) (Website:http://www.resna.org)