Select Pace University students enrolled in the Fall 2014 CIS102T course had the opportunity to work with Vital Care Services on innovative research using wearable technology. Research was conducted at two senior living communities: the Carter Burden Center for the Aging and The Kensington. The program offered seniors the chance to use Fitbit brand wearable activity tracking technology. Using the Fitbit technology participants were able to monitor the number of steps, distance traveled and calories burned each day throughout the study. Participants were selected based on the following criteria: one or more chronic health condition, the participant’s ability to mobilize, and accessibility to a computer.
The Pace students helped acclimate the seniors to the new technology and assisted them with setting up a Fitbit account to have the data automatically sync and available online for review by the senior participant. Students visited the senior communities weekly to track biometric changes, assist in collecting blood pressure and weight readings using wireless Bluetooth medical devices, and syncing the weekly activity data. During the in-person sessions, the students also helped the seniors review data on their Fitbit account and provided non-clinical feedback and basic health education.
The key objectives of the study were to determine if the use of activity tracking technology could benefit a senior’s health and if seniors would be engaged using the new technology. Proven benefits have already been seen by younger generations, using wearable activity tracking devices, and it is hopeful that the benefits could be seen in the senior population as well. The challenge of convincing seniors to use the technology was eased by having the support and assistance of university students.
The results from the study, based off of: pre/post assessment surveys completed by the seniors, Fitbit activity tracking data and vital sign measurements showed that engaging seniors in the use of activity tracking did have a positive influence on their health. Seniors, who remained active, shown by higher total step and distant traveled values, had lower blood pressure and weight measurements as opposed to their more sedentary cohorts. The study also revealed compelling data on senior engagement, with 100% of seniors self-reporting that after using the Fitbit technology they saw the value in tracking their steps; making them more aware of their activity level and the associated health benefits.
To read more about the study click the link to the following white paper:
To read more about the program at the Carter Burden Center for the Aging: