SMART approach to rehabilitation

New technologies designed to improve the everyday lives of chronically ill people will be the focus of a major project at the University of Ulster.

The university’s School of Computing and Mathematical Science will look at how technology can assist in rehabilitating patients after a debilitating illness and help them to cope with the long-term effects of their condition.

The project, called SMART (Self Management supported by Assistive, Rehabilitation and Telecare Technologies), has been awarded almost £600,000 by the EPSRC over the next four years.

Ulster’s partners in the project include Philips Research Laboratories, BT Laboratories and The Stroke Association.

Stroke will be the first condition to be investigated by the research team. A stroke can leave people temporarily or permanently disabled, and the SMART team will look at how software and sensor-based systems can be used to allow them to manage their own rehabilitation programme at home, with remote monitoring carried out by a therapist.

Other areas to be investigated will include long-term pain management and coping with the effects of heart failure.

The final phase of the project will involve the home-based testing of technologies by patients from each of the three target groups.