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Improving Elderly Autonomy Through Serious Gaming and Social Networking.

Author(s) Emilie Pasche1, Rolf Wipfli2, Christian Lovis3
Affiliation(s) 1Division of Medical Information Sciences, University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, 2Division of Medical Information Sciences, University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, 3Division of Medical Information Sciences, University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Country - ies of focus Global
Relevant to the conference tracks Innovation and Technologies
Summary In fifteen years, the number of octogenarians will have increased by 80%. With the ageing of the population, chronic diseases are expected to double by 2050. Healthcare systems may collapse under the weight of the demand. In this context, the MobilityMotivator project aims to provide elderly people with a tool to help them age well by improving their mobility and preventing social isolation. This project follows a four-step plan: a specification phase, a prototype development phase, an evaluation phase and a dissemination phase. The conclusion of this project will enable us to determine the impact of such an approach on the mobility of elderly people and the socio-economic impact.
What challenges does your project address and why is it of importance? Only a minority of elderly people perform a sufficient amount of physical exercises. A study performed in England reported that only 17% of men and 13% of women aged 65-74 reach the recommended levels of physical activity. There are many reasons why elderly do not feel they can or should engage in physical activity (e.g. fear of injury, physical limitations, etc.) which leads to a lack of motivation. The consequences of this lack of activity directly results in the decrease of the quality of life of elderly people, with the increased risk of developing chronic diseases (coronary heart diseases, diabetes, etc.) and increased social isolation. Moreover, because of the growing proportion of older adults, this represents an increasing public health problem.
The challenge of this project is to motivate elderly people to remain engaged in physical activities so that they stay connected with their peers. This challenge is of major importance to both the individuals and the society. For the individual, it is essential to age well in order to have a satisfactory quality of life and autonomy. For the society, active ageing will reduce the health costs and also ensure that the healthcare system is able to manage the demand.
How have you addressed these challenges? Do you see a solution? The MobilityMotivator project proposes an approach based on the development of a serious gaming environment to motivate elderly to remain involved in physical activity and social interaction. The approach proposes two modes: a telemonitoring mode and a gaming mode.
The telemonitoring mode is dedicated to the healthcare provider and enables them to supervise and encourage their patients to undergo physical activities, but also to remain active and engaged within the urban environment. The patient performs exercise at home in front of his television and the healthcare provider is provided with monitoring mechanisms to assess cognitive and physical performances of his patient through the Mobility Motivator platform. It also enables the healthcare provider to define the level of challenges for their patient according to the patient's abilities.
The gaming mode is dedicated to elderly people. The game relies on two elderly people playing together: the outdoor player and the indoor player. Initially, both players get in touch through the platform and start a game. The choice of challenges is based on an intelligent engine that customises the game according to the individual’s assessment for mobility and cognitive capacities. The outdoor player, who is provided with a smartphone, faces a mission such as making his way to the museum in the centre of the town. He moves through the game and performs tasks associated with the mission. At some points, the outdoor player interacts with the indoor player, thus receiving feedback and encouragement. During the time, the indoor player is challenged with a cognitive enigma, such as solving simple orientation problems in a given time, or with indoor physical activities such as chair exercises. The end of the game will be achieved when players reach the final destination. The players can repeat the game process at a later date by switching roles. Over time, the game builds a record of progress, which can be analysed by the healthcare providers when evaluating each patient’s mobility and cognitive abilities.
Although health e-games generally provide health literacy, physical fitness, cognitive fitness, skills development and condition management, these are mainly designed for mainstream consumers rather than the over 65 not familiar with technology like the MobilityMotivator. In addition, no other health e-game incorporates telemonitoring functionalities to enable feedback provided by healthcare providers.
How do you know whether you have made a difference? The development of the solution will be based on a rigorous assessment and monitoring of user needs and interests and will be tested through three user representative organisations in three European countries.
The impact evaluation in real living and working environments will aim to assess the usability of the MobilityMotivator environment under real living and working conditions, using key indicators applicable to indoor and outdoor situations. This evaluation will also enable to determine the impact on mobility, autonomy and socio-economic parameters in comparison to a parallel control group experiencing conventional living and working conditions. A number of qualitative and quantitative indicators for success will be identified. Methods for collecting these indicators in an unbiased way will be defined. Data collection will be designed and planned with the support of statistics experts in the design and analysis of clinical trials.
Have you or the project mobilized others and if so, who, why and how? The project is a European research project which is composed of a consortium of nine partners distributed in six countries: Laboratory of Engineering Systems of Versailles (France), Institute für Arbeit & Technik (Germany), Audemat (France), Inventya (England), E-Seniors (France), University Hospitals of Geneva (Switzerland), German Red Cross (Germany), Studio 345 (Luxemburg) and La Mosca (Belgium). The consortium has been designed with careful consideration to the following key requisites. First, the portfolio of complementary skills necessary to ensure project objectives is met. Second, the consortium comprises a balance between industrial SMEs, research community, user involvement and market expertise. Finally, geographical spread aims to facilitate initial establishment in three European countries (Switzerland, France and Germany) as a foundation for future growth and expansion.
When your donor funding runs out how will your idea continue to live? The market for MobilityMotivator has great potential since it is still largely untapped. A study conducted by Empirica found that a mixed market for technologies, which promote active ageing and other telecare related ICT-products, is emerging. Older people from some countries are starting to privately purchase such products and services in order to age well. Healthcare providers may also be interested to improve the quality of care and supervision provided. Moreover, a modest investment in devices that encourage mobility that could improve the ageing process has the potential to save several billions per year in Europe. Dissemination activities need to be focused on all these actors to convince them of the value of having access to the MobilityMotivator environment. There are signs that, with sufficient support, the market for technology for the elderly can be accessed.
European-wide exploitability of the MobilityMotivator is considered from the very start of the project. The consortium partners plan to launch a Joint Venture in order to implement exploitation strategies and business plans following project completion. This is expected to be achieved within the 2 years of project completion. The potential return on investment will be further investigated following the development of the business model in the research phase.