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Could image-capturing technology help those with Alzheimer's?

Could image-capturing technology help those with Alzheimer's?
11th August 2014

The rapid advancements in technology have had a huge effect on how the public live, but could such devices be of use to those with Alzheimer's and similar conditions?

An article in the Guardian points to a few different inventions that take numerous still images of day-to-day life for those with cognitive decline in a bid to help them to remember more of what has recently happened.

Around ten years ago, Microsoft made a patent application for a recall device that would enable someone with the degenerative disease and their caregiver to build up a picture of what the individual had got up to each day. 

Researchers from Addenbrooke hospital worked alongside Microsoft's team in Cambridge and discovered that a certain piece of technology - SenseCam - proved beneficial to those struggling with memory retention.

Back in 1999, Lyndsay Williams came up with SenseCam in an attempt to take pictures of bad drivers who forced her to slam on her brakes while she was cycling. It consisted of a digital camera attached to the basket on her bicycle, which was linked to an accelerometer. 

The team from Addenbrooke and Microsoft found that one lady - known as Mrs W - who struggled to remember memories, was able to recall double the amount of detail about incidents that happened half a year previously, having watched images produced by SenseCam over a fortnight, in comparison to what she could recall from a written diary. 

Earlier this year, a study by this research group studied six individuals who had mild to moderate versions of Alzheimer's. It transpired they had the ability to recall 85 per cent of key details about events, after they watched images from SenseCam every other day over a two-week period. 

When the incidents that had been recorded in a diary were discussed, the figure dropped to 56 per cent, while it fell even further to 33 per cent when there was no intervention. 

Furthermore, patients could still state just under half of the main details three months later, even though they hadn't seen the images again. This worked out as being triple the rate of recollection when compared with the diary. 

Dr Doug Brown from the Alzheimer's Society was quoted by the paper as saying that while these results were interesting, larger trials were needed. 

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes