Friday, 31 October 2014

‘What is Mild Cognitive Impairment and what can we do about it?’

Last Thursday (23.10.2014), the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) at the University of Sheffield hosted an international conference on Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Speakers from the UK, Canada and Sweden working on project AAL-WELL (Ambient Assisted Living Technologies for Wellness , Engagement and Long Life) spoke on the issues facing sufferers of MCI, carers, health services and technology development teams.

The conference served as a workshop to enable practitioners and academics to come together and discuss the issues surrounding the development and implementation of technology in the care and support of people with MCI.

Alex Milhailidis gave an overview of the AAL-WELL initiative, a trans-disciplinary and transnational group seeking to produce useful, adaptable technology that corresponds to the needs of people with MCI.

Arlene Astell outlined what we know about MCI and discussed the three possible outcomes the condition can have, these being maintenance of lower cognitive function, degeneration into conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, or recovery of cognitive function. She highlighted the importance of addressing questions such as what differentiates those who recovered, and whether more people could make a full recovery given the right support.

Tim Gomersall spoke on the impact of diagnosis of MCI on patients, emphasising aspects of temporality and MCI patients' struggle to deal with the ambiguity associated with the diagnosis of MCI.

Louise Nygård described how MCI patients interact with technology on a daily basis and how this daily use can be affected by MCI. She highlighted a need for development of assessments for people with MCI that focussed on daily interactions with technology.
Dr Eva Lindqvist of the Karolinska Institutet presenting
at the AAL-WELL MCI event hosted by CATCH

Dr Eva Lindqvist’s speech on finding out the needs of people with MCI emphasised how even activities that appear simple (e.g. getting groceries) can require a significant number of skills (e.g. find one’s way, negotiating traffic, arrange payment), any of which may be affected by MCI.

Amy Hwang’s presentation touched on the importance of customisability of technology for care-givers, while Piper Jackson highlighted the importance of working across traditional academic discipline boundaries to solve problems around technology and aging.

Andrew Sixsmith’s outline of future directions in gerontechnology brought the conference to a close, after which much interesting discussion took place between attendees.

The event was the first of its kind, and much interest was expressed in making such events a regular occurrence. Look out for details of the next one on the CATCH website (

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