It is estimated that 150,000 people suffered a stroke last year in the UK, a condition caused by a lack of blood getting to the brain. Well known symptoms of stroke tend to be physical, for example left-side paralysis or problems with speech; however, for 68% of cases symptoms go deeper.
For this percentage of stroke survivors, disorders such as apraxia and action disorganisation syndrome (AADS) can develop, causing sufferers to experience difficulty in sequencing certain actions including washing themselves and making the bed.
While improved brain-scanning techniques have made it easier for doctors to identify AADS, the condition is often overlooked in favour of physical rehabilitation.
Now, a team of psychologists and engineers has come together in a project that looks to improve the life of thousands. The Cogwatch project aims to help restore patients’ independence by developing rehabilitation systems that can be installed into homes.
These systems are designed to monitor patients throughout the day and provide guidance as and when errors are made. It is hoped the patients will be able to learn the correct sequence this way.
To monitor movements, a watch has been designed. This watch will then wirelessly sync up with everyday objects in the home, such as clothing or a toothbrush. The idea is that when the watch senses an incorrect movement, it will inform the patient through visual, audio or sensory means.
On the surface this seems like a great idea, however not everyone is likely to take to the idea. Many stroke victims are over the age of 65 and may not be able to integrate this kind of technology into their lives. The team behind Cogwatch is working closely with the Stroke Association to make the system as user friendly as possible.
Even though this project is still in its infancy, the fact it is tackling AADS is a fantastic step in the right direction for full stroke rehabilitation.