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2007 Grant - Carnahan
The Application of a Tactile Way-Finding Belt to Facilitate Navigation
Heather Carnahan, Ph.D.
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2007 Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer Care Research Grant
The loss of environmental awareness and decision-making skills is a common consequence of advancing Alzheimer's disease. Losing these skills often affects a person's way-finding ability in new and familiar environments. To intensify the problem, people with Alzheimer's are likely to be unaware of their limitations which may lead to potentially dangerous situations where they become lost.
Heather Carnahan, Ph.D., proposes the use of way-finding belt, recently developed for the blind, for individuals with Alzheimer's disease. The belt is worn around the waist and provides tactile spatial information to the wearer. It contains a global positioning system, a three-axis compass and an inertial sensor to locate the person wearing the belt. In addition, it provides touch cues to help the user navigate their way home and may involve the caregiver in the navigation process through cell phone technology.
This research grant will involve several studies to evaluate the way-finding performance of the belt through its use on controlled routes and in "real-life" situations including on streets and in buildings. The study team will use individuals with Alzheimer's and healthy age-matched controls to navigate the routes with and without the belt.
The end result of the project will be the development of recommendations regarding the use and usefulness of the way-finding belt for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.