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New institute to study link between mobility and early signs of illness

A new innovation institute has been created to investigate links between mobility and degenerative disorders like dementia among the elderly. The UK-China Gait and Health Innovation Institute is a joint initiative by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Qianhan Technology, China.

Liming Chen pic

Changes in a person’s gait – the way that they walk – has been linked to cognitive decline and can be an early indicator of whether someone is more likely to suffer falls or develop dementia, Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s.

Qianhan Technology has developed uses smart shoes - a latest wearable technology (pictured below) to monitor a person’s walk looking at factors such as how fast they walk, the rhythm and stride. It works with healthcare organisations in China such as hospitals and care homes to monitor patients and elderly residents. The technology is also being investigated in use for rehabilitation, sport science and forensic science.       

In the new institute, DMU experts will be able to analyse the enormous amount of gait data provided by Qianhan’s monitoring to try to establish accurate predictors which can help identify those at highest risk of progressing to dementia from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Knowing who is at risk will help doctors put in place preventative strategies enabling better quality of life for patients and saving the health care system billions of pounds.

Gait pic 1

Professor Liming Chen, Head of the Context, Intelligence and Interaction Research Group (CIIRG) at DMU, said: “We strongly believe gait data analysis can contribute to smart healthcare. We want to increase impact and provide easy to use scalable technology that will benefit society.

“The creation of this institute reflects our desire and our aspiration to pursue innovative research to positively impact society and the economy.”

Dr Shuai Tao, CEO of Qianhan Technology which is in China’s Liaoning Province, said he was excited to launch the institute. He added: “Today is a very big day because this institute is the first organisation we have founded outside of China. I hope the two sites together will lead to more academic papers and applications not only in China but in the UK and EU.”

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Professor Nigel Wright, DMU Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) said: “We recently launched our research strategy and there are a number of aspects to that today’s event exemplifies including not only the global aspect but the collaborative element to the research which will have a social impact.”

Professor Wright was joined by Professor Alistair Duffy, Associate Dean in Research, in the Faculty of Technology; and Professor Helge Janicke, Head of School of Computer Science and Informatics, and Dr Shanshan Liang, chief medical officer at Qianhan, to officially open the new institute.

Posted on Tuesday 15th May 2018

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