New device could give health advice


Scientists are hoping to create a device which could see chronic pain sufferers get treatment advice via their phone or TV

Elderly people suffering chronic pain could soon get treatment advice via their television or phone.

Scientists in Aberdeen are hoping to create a device that will help pensioners living in remote areas cope with painful conditions.

Visits to the hospital or doctor are not always easy and researchers believe that accessing care advice from a household appliance could be the answer.

The device, which would be attached to or integrated into the household appliance, could also include an element of social interaction to boost patients’ mood.

A team from the University of Aberdeen and UHI, the University of the Highlands and Islands, is behind the three-year project.

They are seeking input from elderly people in the design and testing of the technology.

Dr Pat Schofield, director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Nursing at Aberdeen University, said: “The device we are envisaging would help older people in rural areas living with chronic pain by giving them support and advice on, for example, the exercise and activities they can do or the correct way they should be sitting so as not to aggravate their condition.

“One of the greatest fears for an older person living in a remote location is that the introduction of technology in their health treatment will result in losing the social interaction they gain from one-to-one visits from health or social care professionals.

“Our aim is to create a device which retains rather than removes personal and social interaction with others – and we’ll look at how, for example, webcam or teleconferencing technology could be integrated into what we create to achieve this.”

Dr Gaener Rodger of the Centre for Rural Health – a collaborative venture between the University of Aberdeen and UHI Millennium Institute – said: “In the development of a prototype, it is paramount that we take into account the capabilities of those who will be using the device and create something which is both technically and physically simple to use.”