High Tech Walker Allows Dementia Patients Maintain Independence - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/28/08

High Tech Walker Allows Dementia Patients Maintain Independence

Elderly people with Alzheimer's disease may soon have a new kind of walker that tells them where they're going and how to get back home again. The unique invention involves a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and Utah State University.

Researchers are working on what is called the "iWalker" (or Intelligent Walker) which allows elderly patients who are losing their cognitive abilities to get around with ease.

Dr. Vladimir Kulyukin a researcher for Utah State says, "It basically localizes you at important landmarks in the environment and reminds you about the direction in which you are traveling and where you are at the moment."

At specific locations the wheels roll over sensors. Once vibrated, they localize the "iWalker" which responds both audibly and on screen. The sensors are not only passive, meaning they don't need any external power, but they're also really rugged against foot traffic.

Eventually, researchers say the iWalker will do even more, even notifying users about dinner time or when to take a prescription, and will have the ability to guide them to the pharmacy. As the population of baby boomers age together, researchers predict something like this will help millions maintain their independence

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