Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Technology may use GPS and software to help dementia patients

Although it’s something that no longer applies at the personal level, I do find that I can’t pass a news item about anything that might help those who are visited by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Depending on the extent, or where you may be in the path of this affliction, anything that might help is worthy of consideration as it may reduce the weight on your mind.

Two stories popped up in the media, almost at the same time, and seem to worth mentioning to make them easier to find:

Two elderly women with dementia have been tagged with satellite technology to stop them from getting lost.

The women, both in their 70s, started using the GPS devices in the past month as part of Edinburgh’s Safe Walking service.

A specific geographical area has been set out for each of them and if they stray out of the zone an alarm is triggered.

One of the women, a 76-year-old from the north of the city, was diagnosed with dementia three and a half years ago.

Two months ago she went missing at 9pm. Police were called out and she was eventually found four hours later two miles from her home. Now she has the GPS device, her husband is happier about her going for a walk.

via GPS device keeping track of dementia patients | Edinburgh and East | STV News.

And…

A Dundee PhD student has developed a computer program that helps dementia sufferers communicate with their carer.

Dr Gemma Webster, 25, created software that holds a “multimedia biography” of the patient which carers can access through a touchscreeen.

The computing researcher said it would help busy care staff learn about the people they were looking after.

Research Councils UK has awarded Dr Webster £10,000 to help promote her “Portrait” project.

The software holds a digital timeline of key events in a patient’s life, along with a family tree and other personal information.

via BBC News – Software shows dementia patient’s biography.

Update

Typically, seconds after I hit the ‘Publish’ button for this particular blog entry, another story appeared in my feeds.

This one is specific to Alzheimer’s, and is somewhat more extreme as it involves a degree of surgical intervention, plus its exact mode of operation is unknown (so don’t take this mention as anything more than a mention – it’s not a recommendation):

Scientists in Canada have raised a tantalising prospect – reversing Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain shrinkage, declining function and memory loss had been thought to be irreversible.

They used a technique known as deep brain stimulation – applying electricity directly to regions of the brain. In two patients, the brain’s memory hub reversed its expected decline and actually grew.

Deep brain stimulation has been used in tens of thousands of patients with Parkinson’s as well as having an emerging role in Tourette’s Syndrome and depression.

Yet precisely how it works is still unknown.

The procedure is all done under a local anaesthetic. An MRI scan identifies the target within the brain. The head is held in a fixed position, a small region of the brain is exposed and thin electrodes are positioned next to the region of the brain to be stimulated.

The electrodes are hooked up to a battery which is implanted under the skin next to the collar bone.

Prof John Stein, from the University of Oxford, said: “Most people would say we do not know why this works.”

His theory is that in Parkinson’s, brain cells become trapped in a pattern of electrical bursts, followed by silences, then bursts and silences and so on. Continuous high frequency stimulation then disrupts the rhythm. However, he accepts that “not everyone will accept this account”.

Mystery

How deep brain stimulation could have a role in Alzheimer’s is even more of an unknown.

via BBC News – Alzheimer’s: Deep brain stimulation ‘reverses’ disease.

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November 28, 2011 - Posted by | Civilian | ,

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