AGE-WELL Initiatives at SFU

Digital Health CIRCLE Innovation Hub
Digital Health Circle (DHC) is the non-profit connector of scientific expertise to Canadian-made digital healthcare innovators. The unique hub approach brings together inventors, researchers, businesses and end-users to create digital solutions that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. This work serves multiple objectives by leading to the creation of relevant and effective new digital technologies, creating high-quality jobs in British Columbia, improving the lives of its citizens and helping create industry clusters. SFU has benefited from DHC’s involvement with its students, acting as a training centre to prepare high technology innovators of tomorrow. DHC also assists with technology transfer and leveraging academic excellence at SFU to create new opportunities to enhance innovation positioning of the university.

AGE-WELL Core Research Project:
Stephen Robinovitch, Simon Fraser University; Fabio Feldman, Fraser Health Authority
Project Title: Wearable technology implementation and innovation to prevent fall-related hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries in older adults
Summary: Falls cause 95% of hip fractures and 80% of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in older adults. These injuries are twice as common among older adults in long-term care (LTC) and acute care, than seniors living independently. Falls management in these settings requires complementary strategies to prevent falls, and prevent injury when falls occur. This research program focuses on facilitating the use of proven technologies, and developing new technologies for preventing injuries from falls in older adults. In Project 1, we will work with care providers to co-develop and evaluate strategies to increase uptake with wearable hip protectors. We will build on our success in implementing hip protectors in LTC in BC’s Fraser Health Authority (FHA), where hip protectors are worn in 60% of falls, and reduce fracture risk 3-fold. We will adapt and evaluate the FHA hip protector implementation model to LTC sites in Schlegel Villages (SV) in Ontario. In Project 2, we will also co-design and evaluate the usability of wearable technologies to prevent fall-related TBI. Our deliverables include evidence- based strategies for implementing hip protectors in LTC, and wearable devices designed to prevent fall-related TBI. Ultimately, this project will advance the health, safety, and mobility of seniors.

Core Research Project
: Theodore Cosco and Martin Ester, Simon Fraser University
Project Title: Precision mental health: A stakeholder-informed, Big Data approach to psychological wellbeing
Summary: One in five seniors suffers from some form of mental illness. Lack of attention and support for mental illness not only harms the person, but also costs the healthcare system and economy billions. Our challenge is to identify: What seniors believe is good mental health and Factors that make and keep a person mentally healthy. Our objectives are to 1) Understand seniors’ definitions of good mental health, 2) Identify who is more likely to be at risk and/or showing early signs of poor mental health 3) Link people with help and support specific to their needs. Our project will use detailed information about the lives of thousands of people, collected in large study of aging, and advanced computer programming, such as machine learning. Rather than using traditional statistics that are only able to determine how a few variables are related to another, we will use machine learning to determine how many variables interact and relate to mental health. This will lead to the development of an “early-warning system” identifying seniors at risk and connecting them to personalized pathways for better mental health.