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A virtual assistant for promoting independent recovery and wellness

Project Description

Research project: Ageing is often associate with loss of muscle mass and function, leading to decreased independence and increased risk of injury (e.g. falls). Neurological conditions and physical injuries make this problem even worse. Very often rehabilitation of older people requires direct contact with a physiotherapist, but NHS budget constraints limit such sessions to at most 45minutes/day. Moreover, such rehabilitation physical activity is performed in a setting (gym or hospital room) that does not represent the environment the patient will operate in when discharged.

The student will create a platform to allow (semi-)independent rehabilitation and promote active lifestyles in older people. Such platform consists of low-cost hardware (RGB and potentially depth cameras) and software that can track the movement of the subject in the camera field of view, check that the activity is done following clinical guidelines and assess the quality of movement. The technology will be designed so that it can easily be installed and used in hospital rooms, personal homes and care homes. In this way, the same system will follow the patient for all his/her rehabilitation journey and even be used once recovered to maintain an active lifestyle.

Clinical input provided by the Walton Centre team and NHS guidelines will be explicitly embedded in the platform to ensure that the exercises are appropriate for a given subject (or population of subjects) and minimise risks. Gamification and immersive technologies will be explored with the industrial partner to enhance motivation and to simulate home environment within a hospital setting.

For more details on the research project please contact the supervisors:
Dr Paolo Paoletti, Dept of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering
Dr Kris D’Aout, Musculoskeletal Biology II, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease
Dr Ganesh Bavikatte - The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
Mr Chris Porter - Immersive Interactive

Please apply by sending CV and letter of application to Ms Diane Ashton

Training: The University of Liverpool is setting up a Doctoral Network in Technologies for Healthy Ageing to train the next generation of physical scientists and engineers to develop novel technologies and devices to address the challenges faced by older people and our clinical colleagues who work with them. It is structured around three healthy ageing challenges; prolonging independence, maintaining wellness and accelerating recovery.

All students will undertake a specific training programme in conjunction with their research project. A range of training modules have been designed to provide the student cohort with the high levels of scientific knowledge and engineering expertise needed for research and development of devices and technologies appropriate for the Healthy Ageing agenda. Through this approach our students will learn skills that will provide them with a unique advantage to develop technologies appropriate for this community and significantly enhance their employability in this emerging field. At the start of the programme students will have a masterclass session with a consultant in clinical geriatric medicine, a therapist and a social worker to introduce them to the challenges of the older person in the community through case studies. Each student will spend a week with a Consultant Geriatrician in clinics and community visits. This clinician will remain in contact with the student throughout their PhD in the role of a mentor to maintain the interface between their projects and the healthcare challenges. Innovative training sessions will ensure the training and research is grounded in real world challenges and have been constructed to provide Essential Transferable Skills and Subject Broadening Skills. The student will be a member of the Liverpool Doctoral College which provides further training opportunities over all three years of the PGR programme, and includes Inductions (general and safety), E-learning (e.g. Good Research Practice), seminars (presenting as well as attending), outreach opportunities and journal clubs.

Funding Notes

Studentships will be funded for 3.5 years covering the home fees and typical Research Council stipend.
Research Council Doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2019
• National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009
• Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2019/20 is £4,327

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