Neil LuptonTalking Lights LLC
David T. Burke, Harvard Medical School Dept. of Physical Medicine andRehabilitationSpaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Roderick T. Hinman and Elmer C. LuptonTalking Lights LLC
Steven B. LeebMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Joel BurkeRegis University
Jeff SchneiderAlbert Einstein College of Medicine
Brian AhangarNY Medical College
Patients with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) often rehabilitate to a level of physical independence much sooner than they achieve cognitive independence. Attention deficit, memory impairment, and executive functioning difficulties all occur in these patients often requiring frequent or constant staff or family intervention. The objective of this Phase I program was to develop, test and evaluate the feasibility of an automatic tracking and minding system which combines hand-held computer reminder technology with position in space technology. The system was then tested with five patients in a TBI unit. We developed and implemented a Patient Locator and Minder (PLAM) system that uses ordinary fluorescent fixtures to transmit location information. This information is received by hand-held computers that provide appointment reminders and navigational assistance to the patient. Using the PLAM system, the average number of human prompts necessary for the patient to arrive at the scheduled destination dropped from 2.1 per trip to 1.0. The proportion of trips that required no prompting increased from 7 percent to 44 percent. Also, the average arrival time for a scheduled activity improved from 4.8 minutes late, to 1.3 minutes early. We conclude that this technology is feasible, can aid TBI patients during their routine therapy schedules and can allow them to gain further independence. This technology offers many potential benefits in a wide array of areas that deal with the disabled. Further development promises to refine and improve the system.