Objective. Handling of emergency calls is an essential task for an environmental control system, when aimed at assistive applications. Often, though, voluntary activation of an emergency call (by pressing a help button, or activating any kind of AT communication device) can be quite demanding for people with debilitating diseases or severe motion impairments (besides, of course, depending on patient's consciousness). Modern ICTs can provide much help, enabling automatic recognition of help needs and management of emergency calls. Although very different in nature, this task has many technical similarities with environmental safety and security control carried out by an Ambient-Assisted Living system, which, in turn, can be also quite useful in allowing bedridden patients to control the home environment. Hence, embedding health-monitoring features within a general-purpose AAL framework may result in a more flexible, reliable and cost-effective solution. This work aims at describing design and implementation of such a solution in a “live” context: the CARDEA AAL system was deployed at ‘Casa Scarzara’, a sheltered house for people with multiple sclerosis in Parma, embedding wireless sensors for vital-sign monitoring.
Main Content. A wireless wearable sensor has been used, which allows for acquiring 3 physiological parameters (2-channel ECG, temperature, and breathing). The sensor is worn at patient's chest, and wirelessly communicates with a PC (base-station), through a Bluetooth connection. The base-station then processes the incoming data stream, extracting the hearth and breathing rates; if such rates (or body temperature) exceed given ranges, the processor issue a request to CARDEA, through a standard LAN connection. From this phase on, CARDEA manages the emergency call, warning a human attendant, by means of visual or acoustic signals, or activating a local pager. If no one takes care of the alert within a few minutes, emergency phone calls and SMS are generated automatically by the CARDEA system.
Results. Before deployment, the system has undergone extensive testing at TAU labs, with positive results. Field-testing at ‘Casa Scarzara’ is starting (February 2011). We expect the proposed solution can help to increase protection of a bedridden person, by providing continuous local and possibly remote supervision.