AI to help dementia patients stay out of hospital

A new Care Research & Technology Centre at Imperial College London will use artificial intelligence and robotics to help people with dementia live longer in their own homes.

The £20 million centre joins six other national discovery science centres that, collectively, make up the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI).

Scientists at the college are looking at developing an EEG (electroencephalogram) device which fits in the ear to monitor fluctuations in brain activity and using radar technology to track people's movements in their own home. While the technology is already in use for other projects, the college wants to extend it and tailor it for use by dementia patients in their daily lives.

Sensors around the home will pick up changes in patients' behaviour which could put them at risk of being admitted to hospital, such as a change in walking pattern that could lead to a fall, or an increase in body temperature which could suggest an infection. The technology can then alert doctors or nurses at an early stage if there are any potential problems.

Fiona Carragher, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “850,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and they deserve the opportunity to live their lives to the full. We’ve seen technology transform the lives of people with other health conditions – now, with the work of the UK Dementia Research Institute Care and Technology centre, this is dementia’s moment to benefit from the latest developments in AI, smartphone technology and social robotics.

“But this work has to go hand in hand with the promised Government overhaul of social care – or scarce, expensive and poor quality dementia care will only undermine our efforts to improve people’s lives through technology.”

The new project will be funded by the UK DRI’s three founding partners: the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

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