I had the opportunity to present at the recent 2nd Annual TVN Conference on “Improving care for the frail elderly” held here in Toronto.

TVN Conference

My talk was about how Mozzaz is helping elderly patients and their caregivers using our solution of personalized care plans delivered through mobile technology. Our new solution, Mozzaz Care, supports remote patient care planning and monitoring, data analytics and the ability to deliver daily scheduled activities.

We’ll be sharing more specific details on how we’re helping elderly patients through some of our recent projects:

Genesis Healthcare supporting elderly ALS patients in China

Genesis Healthcare

Jacquith Nursing Home long term care for seniors with complex needs

Jacquith Nursing Home

State of Arkansas Department of Human & Health Services

State of Arkansas

Specific areas that we’re seeing the most use include:

Thanks to our partners at TVN for inviting us to participate and be a part of the conversation.

Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network (the Network, or TVN) is a not-for-profit organization supporting multidisciplinary research related to health care tools, technology and interventions for seriously ill elderly patients and their families.

You know the phrase 'you have to give a little to get a little'? Well that is just what we did, but what we got was more than just a little! Working together with the Dell Healthcare team and Give Forward, we provided LEEP Forward 12 Dell tablets set up with TalkingTiles accounts. And do you know what we got? The awesome feeling of seeing the kids and staff excited about their new therapy tools!

OK, yes, I’m a geek when it comes to tech gadgets, but I love pushing the limits when it comes to using tech to help those with complex needs. As a dad to my son with autism, I’m fascinated in the way he thinks and I often wonder how he’s perceiving and processing the world around him with all the sensory inputs that neurotypical brains routinely manage.

google glass

We’re living is some exciting times with commercialization of real wearable technology that’s actually smart and usable. The exciting part is how this is opening up new opportunities to interact, learn, and enhance a person’s life who is living with a complex disability.

I came across the amazing work that Dr. Ned Sahin, a neuroscientist and neurotechnology entrepreneur from MIT and Harvard, who has started Brain Power – a company with a mission to “neuro-assisted devices” that can unlock the power of the brain.

google glass 2

I wanted to use my decades of neuroscience training to help people in their daily lives,” says Dr. Sahin, “and with autism there was the biggest chance to do so. I was struck to my heart when a friend told me he says ‘I love you’ to his child each night at bedtime and cries inside hoping against hope his child will someday be able to say it back.”

For example, one could measure when the child looks at the parent (using Glass’s head-motion detector), then catch their attention by redrawing faces as cartoons and prompting with arrows and awarding points for well-timed eye contact. Another will measure bodily signs of sensory overload to predict when a child may melt down — delivering warnings both to the parent (via a phone app) and to the child. The system could even learn from the crowd — e.g. warning ahead of time if a child is somewhere where others were triggered on previous days.

“Our tools are based in brain science from Harvard and MIT,” says Ned, “but they’re practical. They’re like dance steps for a productive social life. For a while, you might be counting your steps, but at least you’re dancing. We want to empower these wonderful children to get out into daily life and dance on through it.”

I look forward to meeting Dr. Sahin and his team one day and eager to utilize Brain-Power’s technology to see if we can make a combined difference.

In a clinical report recently published in the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its recommendations, which were first released in 2006.

“Global developmental delay and intellectual disability are relatively common pediatric conditions. This report describes the recommended clinical genetics diagnostic approach. The report is based on a review of published reports, most consisting of medium to large case series of diagnostic tests used, and the proportion of those that led to a diagnosis in such patients.”

Doctors get new guidance

In general, this report emphasizes advances in genetic testing in recent years that can provide a more precise diagnosis for children with various delays. In cases where a child has been identified as having intellectual disability or global developmental delay, but the cause is unknown, doctors are advised to work with a genetics specialist to conduct chromosomal microarray testing, which can detect genetic abnormalities, and fragile X testing. Metabolic testing should also be considered, the guidance indicates.

It is important to identify the root of a child’s disability, when possible, to provide the most appropriate treatment plan, the report said. What’s more, identifying a precise diagnosis can help families manage expectations, advocate for their child and obtain services and supports, they indicated.

Although a positive step in getting more practitioners on the same page and trying to understand the complex puzzle that underlies a disability, but there is still a lot of work still needed in the identification, “labeling” and actual treatment based on the diagnosis.