CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (June 1, 2016)—Royal Philips announced that the company has been awarded a Veterans Administration (VA) grant to research Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) technology that integrates sensors, actuators, interfaces and artificial intelligence into traditional homes to support independent living and improve quality of life for those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

To date, AAL has been applied primarily to healthy older adults, or for older adults who are frail or suffering from multiple chronic conditions such as heart failure, COPD and diabetes, but rarely for people living with MCI. This latest research supports the VA’s efforts to work with healthcare leaders in the private sector and develop innovative programs that can address veterans’ healthcare-related challenges, part of which was highlighted last month at the VA’s Brain Trust: Pathways to Innovation event in Washington, D.C.

According to the Mayo Clinic, MCI is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes. Those impacted by MCI and their loved ones, may be aware that their memory or mental function has mildly declined, but these changes aren't severe enough to interfere with their day-to-day life and usual activities. However, they can experience difficulties in a range of basic activities such as using the telephone, managing medication, and performing hobbies, which are more cognitively demanding, and may lead to decreased quality of life and an increased risk of loss of independence. It also can lead to increased burden for family members and other informal caregivers.

“When government, health systems, industry researchers, and involved citizens rally behind such an important common cause as improving lives for MCI patients via better support in the home itself, we can not only make a meaningful impact on veterans and their families, we can impact entire communities,” said Hans-Aloys Wischmann, head of research for Philips North America. “The nation’s veterans deserve the absolute best quality care we can provide them and in order to develop the solutions and services they need, public-private partnerships such as these grants and the collaboration with MyVA and the VA Brain Trust and its partners, are key to unlocking the independence and health of this most important segment of our society.”

Through the research grant, Philips will look to understand which existing technologies or tools can be applied in the home to improve the quality of life for our veterans and their families. These include tablets with decision support solutions that can aggregate data from connected home devices and sensors, as well as well as integrate healthcare devices. This latest program compliments Philips previous efforts to build a healthy society through research in brain health, which includes exploring the use of ultrasound in detecting intracranial pressure (ICP) in people who have suffered a potential concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI), blood testing for concussions, and technologies for built environments that support older adults through the work of groups such as the AgingWell Hub (AWH).

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