Dementia, elderly man sitting on a bench

PhD Defence by Julia Rosemary Thorpe: Engineering Systems Design in Healthcare: Smart mobile and wearable technology for support and monitoring in dementia rehabilitation

Monday 17th of December 2018 at 13:00, DTU Lyngby Building 421, Room 74

Supervisor: Professor, Anja Maier
Co-supervisor: PhD, Hysse Birgitte Forchhammer

Professor, Jakob E. Bardram
Clinical Professor, Karen Andersen-Ranberg
Professor, P. John Clarkson

Healthcare systems are undergoing a paradigm shift driven by growing demands on resources due in part to an ageing population and by opportunities presented by rapidly advancing technology. The vision for the future is of healthcare supported by technology to deliver care that reaches more people throughout their everyday lives in the home/community environment, empowers patients to manage their health and be involved in devising care strategies, and is able to predict and prevent illness or decline.

This PhD project addresses the complex task of designing future healthcare systems by bringing together engineering design, technology and health sciences, focusing on dementia care as an important case and challenge for society. This work examines the potential role of mobile and wearable technology in dementia care to improve patient quality of life and inform care practices, fulfilling three main objectives. First, opportunities for personal mobile and wearable technology to meet needs of the dementia care network are identified. Second, a novel technological solution is developed to perform the dual purpose of providing adaptable, personalised support for people with dementia in everyday life and generating continuous, objective measures of mobility and activity for behavioural monitoring.

Third, the solution is implemented in a real-life setting among people with dementia to evaluate its feasibility for augmenting rehabilitation interventions in practice. Findings show the potential for smartphones and smartwatches to support people in the early stages of dementia by helping them remembering tasks, appointments or information, recall faces/names, navigate home independently, share their location with caregivers, communicate with their social network and by motivating physical activity – all of which contribute to overall function in everyday life and social engagement. Familiarity and personalisation are highlighted as key factors for user acceptance.

Findings from evaluating the sensor-based behavioural monitoring approach demonstrate the potential for activity and mobility features calculated from location, activity and step-count data to reveal patterns and trends in behavior that could enable timely and targeted intervention and collaborative care strategies.

A core contribution of this work is a set of behavioural measurement tools that can be used directly using available, off-the-shelf devices for e.g. understanding human behaviour in engineering design research and practice, or for monitoring patients in active ageing interventions or a range of chronic illnesses that affect mobility/activity. Further contributions include evidence describing the feasibility of using smart mobile and wearable devices for both support and monitoring in rehabilitation among people with dementia in a real-life context, as well as knowledge about available tools to support everyday life among people with dementia and factors influencing their acceptance.

Through these contributions, this PhD projects advances progress towards predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory healthcare systems of the future.

Read more about the project

Everyone is Welcome


Mon 17 Dec 18
13:00 - 17:00


DTU Lyngby
Building 421, Room 74
19 AUGUST 2019