Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Visiting the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology research group

I’m a PhD student at Western University (in London, Canada) in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and for the last two weeks I’ve been visiting the RAT group at the University of Sheffield to learn more about the use of technologies for managing chronic illness. As a student at Western, I’m part of the Healthy Ageing team in the Ageing, Rehabilitation and Geriatric Care (ARGC) Research Centre with the Lawson Health Research Institute. Some of the research we do uses exercise prescription, behavioural counselling, and self-directed health technologies for remote patient monitoring in an effort to promote healthy living behaviours and prevent or manage disease progression. For the most part, these technologies are relatively simple and accessible devices, such as smartphones and Bluetooth-enabled peripheral devices like blood pressure monitors, glucometers, pedometers, and weigh scales. This research is carried out in rural and urban centres in collaboration with other research teams at Western, and is also part of an international consortium with research teams in Finland.

It’s been great to have this opportunity to visit the University of Sheffield and learn, hands-on, about some of the technologies that are being developed for patient self-management of chronic illness as part of the SMART2 project. I think there are many exciting applications for technologies (like SMART2) to be implemented in health service delivery and improve patient care for chronic disease as well as lifestyle-related conditions (such as stroke rehabilitation, heart failure, diabetes and obesity). And I would even speculate that capitalising on personalised self-management programs like the ones included in the SMART2 will help ease the burden on the health care system and improve quality of care and quality of life for patients living with chronic illness.

Thank you to the RAT group for opening your doors and sharing your insights with me during my visit!

[written by Emily Knight]

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