Monday, 18 February 2019

Older Adults’ Perspectives on Using Digital Technology to Maintain Good Mental Health

On February 13th 2019, Dr Jacob Andrews, former PhD student in CATCH, and Prof Mark Hawley, Director of CATCH, published a new paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper is titled ‘Older Adults’ Perspectives on Using Digital Technology to Maintain Good Mental Health: Interactive Group Study’.

This paper describes a study in which older adults presented their views of using different types of digital technology to help support their mental health. The study aimed to understand what might motivate (or demotivate) older people to use technology for this purpose. We did this research because there isn’t much research available on older adults’ use of technology to support mental health, even though they are the fastest growing group of users of digital technology, and mental health problems are common in this group.

The methods we used for this study were very interactive. Fifteen older adults aged 50 years or older (average age 66) came to the CATCH Home Lab to try out some different digital technologies designed to support mental health. Using interactive activities meant we could capture peoples’ immediate reactions to these apps and websites, and it made the sessions more interesting for people taking part. 

Our results showed that older adults were motivated to use technology to improve their mood, either because it helped to distract them from their concerns, or because it made them feel normal to see descriptions of different feelings written down, or because it helped them to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings. Lots of people also said that they liked to use technology so they don’t have to bother or annoy their friends and relatives – it gives them a sense of self-reliance. 

We also heard about some things that might stop people from using technology to support their mental health. These included that people were wary about what might happen if they recorded their feelings in a digital app, also people said that feeling low sometimes discouraged them from using technology in the first place. For some, it was difficult to use apps and websites on tablets or phones, because they had limited mobility in their hands, or because they didn’t know what different symbols and buttons meant. Despite these factors, many of our older adult volunteers were aware of websites or apps that were designed to support good mental health.

Overall, our paper shows that older adults are motivated to use digital technologies to keep up or improve their mental health, but there are some factors that developers of apps and websites need to address for this population to access them.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Group Exercise in Stroke Survivors: A Review

When somebody has had a stroke, group exercise interventions can be used to keep improving their fitness, strength, activity levels, balance and the way they walk and move. However, we don’t know very much about how good these group fitness interventions are at improving these things.

So, we have done a review of existing group exercise interventions for stroke survivors. The review aims to find out how effective they are in improving fitness and activity levels in stroke survivors.
We found that improvements are short-term and less obvious six months after the intervention is over. We think that future research should consider consistency in measuring improvements in stroke survivors who take part in group exercise interventions. This is because if it is measured properly, we can make better conclusions about how useful these exercise interventions really are.
The review was conducted by staff at the University of Sheffield:
Mr Gavin Church (Physiotherapist)
Dr Jack Parker (Research Fellow)
Miss Lauren Powell (Research Associate)
Professor Sue Mawson (Professor of Health Service Research)
The work has been published and can be found here:
If you want to find out more, you can contact the corresponding author, Miss Lauren Powell:

Friday, 16 November 2018

Helping people with communication difficulties find their voice

Two new innovative apps, developed in conjunction with CATCH and designed to help people with speech difficulties find their voice, have been launched by Therapy Box.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Conference calls for more support to unlock the potential of technology

Last month’s annual conference of the EASPD (European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities) in Barcelona asserted the need for technology-based solutions and assistive technologies to contribute to the provision of high quality, user-centered and community-based support services.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Hackcessible 2018 – Co-designers and Students meet for the first time

Hackcessible 2018 - students and co-designers meet for the first time

Hackcessible 2018 is off to a fantastic start!
Last, week saw the first meeting of co-designer’s and students in The Diamond. The co-designer’s presented a number of challenges to the students that they would like solved. It was a chance for everyone to meet and brainstorm ideas for the first time.
They were some truly inspiring stories from the co-designers and how they would like assistive technology to help in their lives as potential users of the products.
Hackcessible 2018 is a make-a-thon that will give engineers, designers, computer scientists, students and others a unique opportunity to collaborate with individuals with disabilities and create workable products that support their needs. Inspired by the AT-Hack at MIT, one of the first disability-related hackathons, and the popular BBC program The Big Life Fix, it will be the University of Sheffield’s first disability-focused make-a-thon.
CATCH researcher Aejaz Zahid is leading the innovative new project that aims to bring together the most talented and creative students from across the University to help change people’s lives.
The students will then have five weeks to develop a deep understanding of the challenge and to mock up possible solution ideas.
On 1st and 2nd December, the teams will create their prototype assistive technology solutions at the iForge makerspace in The Diamond.
To find out more about this exciting event check out the Hackcessible 2018 website. If you would like to get involved as a sponsor, judge or mentor contact the team here.

CATCH Professor invited to meet Dutch King and Queen

Dr Henriette Louwerse and Professor Luc de Witte pictured outside the Dutch Ambassador's Residence

It’s not every day you get invited to meet royalty, but that’s exactly what happened to CATCH Professor Luc de Witte last month.

Human Communication – a CATCH research theme special event 22 January 2019

On 22 January 2019 CATCH is hosting a special day of events focusing on our work in one of our research themes, human communication.

Hackcessible 2018 – Using technology to help make the world a better place

CATCH researcher Aejaz Zahid is leading an innovative new project that aims to bring together the most talented and creative students from across the University to help change people’s lives.

Digital Technologies to Improve Patient Care

One of the digital technology workshops exploting how to improve patient care
A series of workshops have been held exploring how digital technology can improve patient care.

Research Round-Up - Latest Publications from CATCH

Check out a selection of the latest publications by CATCH researchers.