Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Toronto, ON, CANADA
Rosalie Wang is Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto
Dr Rosalie Wang was honoured with the Age Plus Prize in January 2014.
PhD, Rehabilitation Science, Biomedical Engineering
Dr Wang’s doctoral thesis examined the use of collision-avoidance technology to enable power wheelchair mobility with long-term care home residents with cognitive impairments.
The Toronto Star online
"It’s a scene reminiscent of the The Jetsons. A robot wheels around the room offering helpful advice, including a reminder to go to the bathroom.” Dr Rosalie Wang is referenced in this article by the Toronto Star.view more
Presenter University of Toronto
Increases in the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are a growing challenge in many nations where healthcare infrastructures are ill-prepared for the upcoming demand for personal caregiving. To help individuals with AD live at home for longer, we are developing a mobile robot, called ED, intended to assist with activities of daily living through visual monitoring and verbal prompts in cases of difficulty. In a series of experiments, we study speech-based interactions between ED and each of 10 older adults with AD as the latter complete daily tasks in a simulated home environment. Traditional automatic speech recognition is evaluated in this environment, along with rates of verbal behaviors that indicate confusion or trouble with the conversation. Analysis reveals that speech recognition remains a challenge in this setup, especially during household tasks with individuals with AD. Across the verbal behaviors that indicate confusion, older adults with AD are very likely to simply ignore the robot, which accounts for over 40% of all such behaviors when interacting with the robot. This work provides a baseline assessment of the types of technical and communicative challenges that will need to be overcome for robots to be used effectively in the home for speech-based assistance with daily living.
Speech Interaction with Personal Assistive Robots Supporting Aging at Home for Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease
7 August 2013
Older adults are the most prevalent wheelchair users in Canada. Yet, cognitive impairments may prevent an older adult from being allowed to use a powered wheelchair due to safety and usability concerns. To address this issue, an add-on Intelligent Wheelchair System (IWS) was developed to help older adults with cognitive impairments drive a powered wheelchair safely and effectively. When attached to a powered wheelchair, the IWS adds a vision-based anti-collision feature that prevents the wheelchair from hitting obstacles and a navigation assistance feature that plays audio prompts to help users manoeuvre around obstacles.
A two stage evaluation was conducted to test the efficacy of the IWS. Stage One: Environment of Use – the IWS’s anti-collision and navigation features were evaluated against objects found in a long-term care facility. Six different collision scenarios (wall, walker, cane, no object, moving and stationary person) and three different navigation scenarios (object on left, object on right, and no object) were performed. Signal detection theory was used to categorize the response of the system in each scenario. Stage Two: User Trials – single-subject research design was used to evaluate the impact of the IWS on older adults with cognitive impairment. Participants were asked to drive a powered wheelchair through a structured obstacle course in two phases: 1) with the IWS and 2) without the IWS. Measurements of safety and usability were taken and compared between the two phases. Visual analysis and phase averages were used to analyze the single-subject data.
Stage One: The IWS performed correctly for all environmental anti-collision and navigation scenarios. Stage Two: Two participants completed the trials. The IWS was able to limit the number of collisions that occurred with a powered wheelchair and lower the perceived workload for driving a powered wheelchair. However, the objective performance (time to complete course) of users navigating their environment did not improve with the IWS.
This study shows the efficacy of the IWS in performing with a potential environment of use, and benefiting members of its desired user population to increase safety and lower perceived demands of powered wheelchair driving.
Collision avoidance technology has the capacity to facilitate safer mobility among older power mobility users with physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments, thus enabling independence for more users. Little is known about consumers’ perceptions of collision avoidance. This article draws on inter- views (29 users, 5 caregivers, and 10 prescribers) to examine views on design and utilization of this technology. Data analysis identified three themes: “useful situations or contexts,” “tech- nology design issues and real-life application,” and “appropri- ateness of collision avoidance technology for a variety of users.” Findings support ongoing development of collision avoidance for older adult users. The majority of participants supported the technology and felt that it might benefit current users and users with visual impairments, but might be unsuit- able for people with significant cognitive impairments. Some participants voiced concerns regarding the risk for injury with power mobility use and some identified situations where colli- sion avoidance might be beneficial (driving backward, avoiding dynamic obstacles, negotiating outdoor barriers, and learning power mobility use). Design issues include the need for context awareness, reliability, and user interface specifications. User desire to maintain driving autonomy supports development of collaboratively controlled systems. This research lays the groundwork for future development by illustrating consumer requirements for this technology.
9 September 2011
We studied an anti-collision power wheelchair's ability to enable safe, independent mobility in nursing home residents with dementia. The device had a contact sensor skirt that compensated for drivers' absent or delayed responses to obstacles. Safety observations were tracked during device use. In six single-subject studies, distances traveled by residents in manual and anti-collision wheelchairs were compared. Two residents could use the device: One resident's mobility and well-being improved; the other thought it was unhelpful. Another resident with potential for use did not like its usability, speed, and appearance. For two other residents, the device did not compensate for decreased initiation, motor planning, and awareness of obstacles above the sensors. Another resident was withdrawn because of verbal aggression. Interviews and focus groups revealed the device's usefulness. Perceptions of safety were mixed. Further work should improve environmental coverage, sensor skirt reliability, and safety; match technology to the needs of a wider range of residents; and enhance usability, functionality, and acceptance.
This case study describes an occupational therapy intervention to increase the self-mobility and social participation of a nursing home resident with dementia using a power wheelchair equipped with a collision-prevention system.
We used an exploratory case study design. Data sources included the medical record, standardized assessments, interviews, observations of daily activities, and a driving log.
During driving sessions, changes in affect such as smiling and attempts to socialize were noted. The resident required ongoing prompting to operate the modified power wheelchair.
The resident was unable to achieve self-mobility with an intervention involving a modified power wheelchair. However, this study demonstrates that even supervised mobility can have a positive impact on affect and social participation. Observations from this study are being applied to the design and testing of the next generation of power wheelchairs intended for use by nursing home residents with dementia.