The work of this group is undertaken under four closely connected, but broad, research themes.
Falls monitoring and falls prediction
Both the incidence of falls and the severity of the consequences increase with age. Current body-worn falls-alarms, which alert carers, suffer from poor detection rates. We have shown that a novel approach which is based on posture measurement leads to improved detection. Our aim is to investigate this approach in the elderly and also capture information on the type of fall and any potential recovery. Future work will focus on developing a deployable system and to use information on activity recorded prior to the fall to inform new falls prediction algorithms. This work has involved collaboration Four Seasons Healthcare and with the University of Ulm in Stuttgart.
Development of physical activity outcomes for clinical populations
Outcomes measures, based on physical activity patterns, are being developed to quantify the patterns of behaviour and the effectiveness of interventions in a wide range of clinical groups (including osteoarthritis, stroke and heart failure). These techniques are also being used to enhance our understanding of how physical behaviours in these populations can be affected by environmental and social factors. In this theme, we collaborate extensively with a range of clinical partners.
Physical behaviour and public health
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers and physical inactivity is estimated to be responsible for 9% or premature mortality worldwide. The risk of a poor health outcome as a result of physical inactivity, or sedentary behaviour, is similar to the risk for smoking and obesity. However the constructs and definitions of physical activity and sedentary behaviour are ambiguous. The aim of this theme is to develop a model that can provide a unified framework for the terminology and constructs used and to apply this across range of fields from rehabilitation to public health. In addition we have been looking at accepted definitions and measurements of sedentary behaviour and testing this on population survey data. We are also planning an investigation of work based health interventions on physical behaviour.
Physical behaviour in people with dementia
Approximately two thirds of people with dementia live at home and one-third in residential care. With the increase in the ageing population, the number of people with dementia living in residential care is set to rise sharply. Current care home facilities will be unable to cope. We are currently looking at the use of body-worn sensors to monitor the physical behaviour patterns of person with dementia in their own home and use this information to make intelligent decisions about the person’s behaviour which could be communicated to carers and health care workers. This work is being conducted with Salford Institute for Dementia.