Collie monitors walking patterns in older adults

Published 12:00 pm Friday, July 15, 2016

Mrudvi Bakshi

At 78 years old, Freida Matts walks with unbridled confidence. Her charisma is so infectious it lights up the mood of all who are present in the room.

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However, Matts isn’t the only Leisure Lifestyle participant with a bounce in their step lately. A dozen other older adults have had a burst in their energy levels since the introduction of Collie in their lives.

Collie is a home health and safety monitoring system designed especially for older people living alone or under assistance. The device, the size of a bar of soap, measures key fall-risk indicators, such as gait and sways properties, and provides caregivers a convenient daily Walk Signature Score.

Leisure Lifestyles was established to work with mature adults, aged 40 and over to provide health and wellness programs and to give a method of promoting physical, social, cognitive and emotional wellness. Members meet bi-weekly at the Oxford Activity Center to have their gait progress monitored and recorded.

“Gait or how you walk is a very good indicator of your overall health,” said Jeremy Webster, chief technical officer for Collie Health. “And things like how fast you walk, if you have asymmetries, could be an early sign of health declining or improving.”

The company plans on coming up with two devices to monitor adult health. The first device will be marketed to doctors and physiotherapists to use on their patients. The second one will be manufactured so it can be installed in the hallway of someone living alone, to passively monitor them as they walk by. With the help of the device people can look at their average stride length, how fast they walk, whether there is a limp while walking or should they see the doctor and start exercising.

Collie Health has partnered with Dr. Yang-Chieh Fu, senior professor at the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the University of Mississippi to help in the study and providing the statistics based on the readings for the Leisure Lifestyle members.

“Although the traditional way of monitoring health was more accurate and comprehensive, it wasn’t good enough for clinical use, which is our main argument for developing this,” Fu said.

Since Leisure Lifestyle is among the few programs locally directly addressing the wellbeing of seniors, it has been working with Collie Health for about a year.

“The Oxford Park Commission likes to collaborate with the university as much as possible, especially with those who have backgrounds in health and wellness,” said Deb Helms, director of Leisure Lifestyles. “This has turned out to be motivating for participants, as it makes them competitive knowing how well they do and how strong they’re getting.”