In a recent news release, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have awarded a portion of a $500,000, 3-year grant to Communication Center director Susan Fager, CCC-SLP, (pictured above) to support a collaborative project titled “Heirarchial Capacitive Sensing for Environmental Control and Physical Therapy for Patients with Paralysis.” Fager serves as director of the Communication Center, Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital.

The release states that the Smart and Connected Health project is a collaborative effort with new research partners Nilanjan Banerjee, PhD, principal investigator, assistant professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland; and Pat Parkerson, PhD, associate professor, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, University of Arkansas.

The research encompasses the development, testing, and assessment of dime-sized wireless sensors that can reportedly be placed anywhere, such as bed sheets, clothing, furniture, and other items. The sensors are built to detect movement, the release says, and in turn facilitate a response, such as turning on a light, recording activity, or shutting a door. The sensors are powered by ambient light.

Fager explains that the “sensors may greatly expand a person’s ability to control their environment or record their own rehab exercises or communicate—without the cumbersome size and complexity of our current assistive technology.”

The release reports that the sensors may also be used in developing products in a medical setting, and eventually home use.

The 3-year research project will be based at Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, and will begin with technology development and focus group assessment.

Fager adds that the researchers’ goal centers on developing novel sensing technology that is reliable, easy to set up and use, and that “seamlessly integrates into the patient’s environment to support environmental control, communication and therapeutic exercise.”

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital specializes in in traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and pediatric rehabilitation.

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[Source: Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital]