age well


BACKGROUND Dr. Frank Knoefel and Dr. Rafik Goubran are co-leads for a group of collaborative projects entitled TECH-DD: Technology for Prevention and Reduction of Disease and Disability as part of the AGE-WELL NCE.

AGE-WELL is a national research network in technology and aging whose aim is to help older Canadians to maintain their independence, health and quality of life through accessible technologies that increase their safety and security, support their independent living, and enhance their social participation. The network strives to create real-world solutions that will make a meaningful impact on the lives of Canadian seniors and caregivers.

TECH-DD: ADDRESSING DISEASE AND DISABILITY Chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or physical injuries due to falls and other accidents have significant implications for the Canadian economy and healthcare system. However, it has been shown that closely monitoring chronic conditions can significantly reduce the effects of these conditions, as can regular activity and exercise regular physical activity in older adults is associated with an overall improvement in health, functional capacity, QOL, and independence. The research activities of TECH-DD will focus on: developing novel ambient-based and on-person technologies that can measure physiological and activity data; developing innovative systems that can mitigate the risk of injury from accidents, such as falls; and exploring new innovative technological platforms for exercise and prevention of injury and disability. The outcome of TECH-DD will be technologies that will be ready to be transferred to market through our partners that can help older adults to prevent, mitigate, and monitor various disease conditions. These results will also greatly benefit our various clinical and policy-based partners who have an active interest in adopting new approaches to improve care practices and reduce healthcare expenditures.


The following projects have been identified to support the goals of TECH-DD:

WP5.1 – AMBI-MON: Ambient-Based Physiological and Functional Monitoring Effective monitoring of at risk older adults, whether in the home or in hospital, can help increase their safety, prevent hospitalization and promptly alert health care providers when an intervention is needed. The project aims to develop sensor systems that can be embedded in the person’s environment and that deliver health and functional information in real time. For example, a bed-based pressure sensor will collect information on breathing, bed movements and characteristics of getting out of bed—all helpful in monitoring respiratory health, risk of skin breakdown and transfer safety. The goal is to quickly detect any changes in health and ability so that early interventions can prevent further decline and enhance safety. Leads: Dr. Rafik Goubran, Carleton University; Dr. Frank Knoefel, Bruyere Research Institute

WP5.2 – PRED-FALL: Technologies to Predict, Prevent, and Detect Falls Falls are the largest cause of injuries in adults over age 65. The aim of this project is to develop and evaluate new technologies to predict, detect and prevent falls and fall-related injuries among people at high risk in both long term care and acute care environments. To learn more about predicting falls this project will analyze real life data, acquired both through networks of video cameras in long term care facilities and with wearable sensors. The goal is to identify differences in movement patterns during falls. In the area of fall prevention, the team will develop and evaluate low cost solutions such as compliant flooring, fall mats and padded furniture along with wearable protective gear. Leads: Dr. Steve Robinovitch, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Fabio Feldman, Fraser Health

WP5.3 – IIES-PHYS: An In-home Intelligent Exercise System for Physical Rehabilitation, Enhancing Musculoskeletal Function, and Preventing Adverse Events Having easy and frequent access to supervised and well-planned therapy for sensory and motor functions can help ensure the long-term health of older adults. This project will develop technologies that can be used for delivering appropriate, individualized rehabilitation and exercise programs. Two separate approaches are proposed: one that provides frequent, less intense regimes for in home use and the other that provides less frequent but more intense regimes for use under the guidance of a therapist in a rehabilitation- or community-centre setting. Leads: Dr. Rajni Patel, Western University; Dr. Mandar Job: Western University


A key mandate for the AGE-WELL network is to foster new collaborations and train highly qualified people to further identify technologies to support aging adults. As a result of network participation, the following projects have been established.

Western Ottawa Whack-a-Mole Pilot Study The Western Ottawa Whack-a-mole (WOW) Pilot Study is the result of a collaboration between WP5.1 (Dr. Rafik Goubran, Dr. Frank Knoefel) and WP 6.2 (Dr. Eleni Stroulia). The goal of the project is to test a customized whack-a-mole tablet computer game amongst older adults living with dementia in the community to determine the games ability to support remote monitoring of individuals with moderate dementia. The resulting game will also contribute to a national network-wide gaming platform. For more details, please click here.

Non-Intrusive Heart Rate Detection Before/After Falls Using Video-Based Processing This project leverages video of real-life falls in long-term care facilities (captured by WP 5.2, Dr. Steve Robinovtich) and applies advanced video processing techniques developed by WP 5.1 (Dr. Rafik Goubran, Dr. Frank Knoefel) to measure the heart rate individuals before and after falls. An analysis is performed on various parts of the body to verify the accuracy of key measurements and to demonstrate that the video magnification method can be used to capture the heart rate and its variations during a fall. The resulting technology has the potential to improve our understanding of falls and falls-related risks.