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MU researchers use new video gaming technology to detect illness, prevent falls in older adults
Date:9/6/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. Many older adults lose their independence as their health declines and they are compelled to move into assisted care facilities. Researchers at the University of Missouri and TigerPlace, an independent living community, have been using motion-sensing technology to monitor changes in residents' health for several years. Now, researchers have found that two devices commonly used for video gaming and security systems are effective in detecting the early onset of illness and fall risk in seniors.

Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering, is working with doctoral student, Erik Stone, to use the Microsoft Kinect, a new motion-sensing camera generally used as a video gaming device, to monitor behavior and routine changes in patients at TigerPlace. These changes can indicate increased risk for falls or early symptoms of illnesses.

"The Kinect uses infrared light to create a depth image that produces data in the form of a silhouette, instead of a video or photograph," said Stone. "This alleviates many seniors' concerns about privacy when traditional web camera-based monitoring systems are used."

Another doctoral student, Liang Liu, is collaborating with Mihail Popescu, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and the Department of Health Management and Informatics in the MU School of Medicine, to develop a fall detection system that uses Doppler radar to recognize changes in walking, bending and other movements that may indicate a heightened risk for falls. Different human body parts create unique images, or "signatures," on Doppler radar. Since falls combine a series of body part motions, the radar system can recognize a fall based on its distinct "signature."

"Falls are especially dangerous for older adults and if they don't get help immediately, the chances of serious injury or death are increased," said Liu. "If emergency personnel are informed ab
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Contact: Samantha Craven
slctw4@mail.missouri.edu
573-882-9144
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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