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Researchers to Explore Ways to Improve Care for Alzheimer’s Patients

March 23, 2007

The University of Texas at Arlington's Bioengineering,Computer Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Material Science & Engineering Departments in the College of Engineering have established a technological alliance to develop technology to enable monitoring services for the aged and those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Their goal is to develop software tools and computer interfaces for tracking the patients without invading family privacy and to make data, devices and communication services interoperable.

The director of the project, Professor Fillia Makedon, chair of the Computer Science & Engineering Department (CSE), said that researchers will combine sensor, radio frequency identification, robotic devices and pervasive technologies to enable individuals with Alzheimer’s and related conditions to stay in their homes as long as possible with minimal and low-cost support.

The core of the project will be a planned center where technologies as well as the performance of human users in simulated environments will be evaluated in order to better understand how Alzheimer's evolution and the impact of drugs used in its treatment can impact the life of these subjects and their families. The mission of the center is to develop robust protocols that allow an average home to be equipped with protective devices that help family members provide adequate and safe care.

Two College of Engineering laboratories will be directly involved in the project: the Human-centered Computing Lab in the CSE Department and the Dallas-Fort Worth Experimental Visualization Laboratory (DEVLAB), both directed by Dr. Makedon. Researchers there plan to involve other labs and academic fields in this effort to expand the ability to monitor, protect and improve the lives of the aged and disabled.

Members of the team are working with clinical experts at Indiana University (neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology), UTSW imaging experts, the Dartmouth Medical School (Advanced Imaging Center and Cardiology Department) and the Harvard Medical School (geneticists and radiologists) who will provide data and expertise to correlate a person's physical behavior and responses with brain and genetic changes.

The team is also in collaboration with computer research institutions abroad and is interested in developing industrial associations with companies developing drugs, orthotic devices, pervasive computing devices, insurance companies, video products, monitoring devices, etc. Interested companies should contact the College of Engineering Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Texas Arlington, 817-272-3785.