Interactive website to showcase dementia research

The Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation has launched an interactive website to showcase dementia research currently being conducted in Australia, including La Trobe University's project that is looking at providing Australia's first companion robot for home-based dementia care.

The launch of the website coincides with the announcement of 29 research grants to young scientists, who will share in $2.5 million to conduct dementia research.

One of the research grants is named in honour of Hazel Hawke, who established a research fund shortly after she was diagnosed in 2001. Zoe Terpening from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute was awarded this year's Hazel Hawke Research Grant in Dementia Care, and will use the funding to investigate whether using a CPAP machine to treat sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnoea can improve cognitive abilities.

A previous winner was Kreshnik Hoti, who received a grant in 2012 to help fund his work as part of a team from Curtin University that has developed an app that can accurately detect and evaluate the severity of pain in non-communicative patients with dementia.

The Electronic Pain Assessment Tool (ePAT) uses technology from Swiss company nViso, a specialist in human facial micro-expressions and eye movements capture which won the 2013 IBM Beacon award for smarter computing.

The automated evaluation technology will allow for the calculation of a pain severity score based in part on a patient’s facial expressions, captured by the smartphone or tablet, along with traditional pain indicators such as vocalisation and behavioural change to provide an accurate total pain score.

ePAT, which has been developed by a team led by Curtin University professor of pharmacy Jeff Hughes, is due to go into testing early this year. The Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation has provided funding to develop and test the app.

The foundation has also announced a call for applications for its 2014 dementia grants round, with a further $2.5 million available for new and early career dementia researchers.

Posted in Aged Care

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