JUN 07, 2018 1:57 PM PDT

Dementia Patients Travel Through Memories While Exercising With BikeAround

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Memory loss can be incredibly difficult for people who are aging along with those with whom they’ve made the memories. Swedish biomechanical engineer and inventor Anne-Christine Hertz developed a new way to help people with Alzheimer's and dementia revisit memorable places from their past while getting in some exercise to boot. She began to create the BikeAround concept in 2010 and it has now evolved into a functioning memory-travel system.

image of BikeAround in use, credit: camanio.com/us/products/bikearound/, thisweeknews.com/ Sarah Sole

While developing Alzheimer’s and dementia treatments at Health Technology Center in Halland, Sweden, Hertz decided to try to help patients with memory loss connect to their pasts and stay physically active at the same time. BikeAround is essentially made up of a stationary bike and a screen that shows the bike traveling through a neighborhood. Hertz used Google Street View when developing the system. Users are able to enter an address of personal import, such as where they grew up, went to school or were married, and then ride and steer the bike through the nearby neighborhood. She writes for the Google blog, where she was featured for the innovative use of their tech:

Our strongest memories are tied inexorably to location … BikeAround taps into this idea by combining mental and physical stimulation—surrounding the patient with places they recognize through the Street View images, and then having them pedal and steer through them. Scientists think this kind of pairing produces dopamine in the brain and has the potential to affect memory management in a profound way.

Hertz says Lars Jonsson, who is 75 years old, and his wife Ingrid trialed and benefited from BikeAround early on. Lars has dementia. She says Lars’ face “flickered with happiness” and Ingrid's expression was “heartwarming” when he virtually rode the bike through the neighborhood around the church where they were wed. Hertz says many patients don’t want to get off the bike once they give it a try.

Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. There are about 5.7 million Americans living with this condition, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

The BikeAround site states the program is appropriate for people with cognitive, physical or memory-related disabilities and challenges. According to the site, the system is now available in two modes: BikeAround Screen Package Deal and the BikeAround jDome Package Deal. The first offers a computer and touchpad, pedal unit and control unit, carpet, StreetViz software, and an internet cable. The second offers all of these elements along with a projector, projector holder, transport case and jDome with stand -- a dome-shaped screen that offers a more immersive experience to the biker. Swedish computer gamer and technologist John Nilsson invented the dome.

"We wanted a screen that had a three-dimensional experience that you could feel like you were there,” Hertz says of adopting the jDome. “Somebody in our network had been to a technology fair in Stockholm [and] seen John's screen and was really excited about it, so we bought one to use as our prototype,” she adds.

Sources:

Google blog

Alzheimer's Association

Association for Computing Machinery

 

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 29, 2020
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
Despite all the measures that are currently in place to keep as much of the general public away from public places as po ...
APR 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 08, 2020
The Future of Battery in a Rear View Mirror
Currently electrochemical batteries is the front and center of energy storage, but their production often put a gre ...
APR 11, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
APR 11, 2020
The "Smart Toilet": Getting to the Bottom of Precision Health
Your toilet could soon play a big part in keeping you healthy, thanks to a new “smart toilet” technology dev ...
APR 09, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 09, 2020
Origami for Science - How Paper-Folding Inspires Spacecraft Landing Tech
Imagine an egg fall to the ground at a counter height spot: at the moment of landing, compression, the pushing force, cr ...
APR 07, 2020
Technology
APR 07, 2020
Advancing Braille Technology
Advancing braille communication for the visually impaired has been faced with financial challenges in the past decades. ...
MAY 25, 2020
Technology
MAY 25, 2020
Hemoglobin levels Detected Through Your Smartphone
New research shows that by just using your smartphone you can get a diagnosis for oxygen levels in your blood. How so? S ...
Loading Comments...