eHealth music therapy for people with dementia

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Music therapy

“Music therapy helps calm people with dementia if they experience states of agitation,” says Professor Felicity Baker, from the University of Melbourne. Felicity’s research shows that singing to people with dementia improves their symptoms. “It’s amazing because dementia is a degenerative disease,” she says.

“Music also generates autobiographical reminders. If a person with dementia listens to music they know, it stimulates their memory. It helps to calm the person down.

Felicity wants the benefits of music therapy to be widely available. She created the Homeside study, which is used in countries around the world. This program guides caregivers in using music to help people with dementia with daily tasks.

computer music therapy

But caregivers cannot always be present. The Felicity team is therefore working with the Australian national science agency, CSIRO, to develop an eHealth music therapy application.

Dr David Silvera, Australian eHealth Research Centre, CSIRO, is one of the project’s technical leads. He is an expert in autonomous systems and human-computer interaction. David’s team will design the algorithm that will choose the music to play to the person with dementia.

The design problem

“The music therapist matches familiar music to the person’s level of restlessness,” David explains.

“To do this automatically, the computer must assess the person’s level of agitation. He must select and match custom music to the hustle. Then the computer has to detect the person’s response and adapt as needed,” says David.

The computer must process this data in real time so that the machine can control a music therapy session.

David says designing this “closed loop” is the hardest part of the project.

Technology can decide agitation levels in controlled laboratory environments. But this project aims to decide the levels of agitation in uncontrolled environments, which is more difficult.

Use of sensors

David’s team will use sensors to monitor the person with dementia. The sensors can detect changes in their heart rate and the sweat on their skin. Microphones can record the speed and volume of their speech and the length of pauses between words. Wearable sensors can detect changes in physical movements.

“I look forward to creating a personalized music therapy response using this system,” says David.

More music therapy for people with dementia

Felicity hopes the MATCH eHealth app will increase the positive impact of music therapy for people with dementia.

“It’s not the same as relating to a real person, like a carer or a music therapist. But we hope it can be part of the continuum of this relationship,” says Felicity.

The Music Attuned Technology Care e-health solution is funded by $2 million from the MRFF.

/Press release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors.View Full here.
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