Tracmo CareActive watch supports the physical & mental health of caregivers and dementia patients

Dr. Robert Levenson and Dr. Kuan-Hua Chen from the University of California, Berkeley, have found that couples with higher relationship satisfaction show greater linkage in their physiological responses such as heart rate and skin conductance during physical interactions. For example, more recent findings from Dr. Levenson and Dr. Chen’s research group suggest that a couple’s physiological linkage can be an indication to predict their mental and physical health—in both healthy married couples and couples in which one person is the spousal caregiver of the other who is diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

In one of the recent studies, 22 patients and their spousal caregivers are monitored in their homes for seven days by wearing a wrist-mounted actigraph monitor. Dr. Levenson and Dr. Chen found that the more often the patient and the caregiver share the same activities or have more physical & social interactions, the less anxiety experienced by the caregiver. This result is a great start to build on more research to understand the connection between physical & mental health of the patients and caregiver and relationship satisfaction which later on can be developed to build the diagnostic model for dementia.

The progression of dementia can be rapid, therefore it may result in anxiety in both patients and the caregivers. Due to the rapid progression nature of the disease, long term follows up is required. Yet, it is hard to monitor the progression on a long term basis because the time in between every visit is too long for doctors to observe its change.

Addressing this issue and building up the recent research, Dr. Levenson and Dr. Chen have recently launched a research project that aims to recruit 300 patients and their familial caregivers, therefore, the total number of participants will be 600 persons to study their activity linkage in their homes for six months.

To carry out the study, the researchers need a wearable device that can collect real-time daily data from their subjects with the least amount of invasion to keep the subjects comfortable. But, the traditional consumer wearable smart devices have lots of shortcomings for the research setting, such as the short battery life, inaccurate location data, and hard to use. Tracmo CareActive Watch addresses all of these issues very well. Therefore, during the study, both patients and caregivers will wear the Tracmo CareActive Watch continuously for six months, and the caregivers will be monitored periodically for their mental and physical health changes.

Dr. Chen said, “We selected the Tracmo CareActive Watch because of its long battery life, ability to provide near continuous monitoring of wearers’ movement and relative position in the home, and ready access to data uploaded to the cloud. In our view, the CareActive Watch provided the optimal feature set for our needs and the company’s technical support was exemplary.”

Tracmo CareActive Watch size is only 1¾ x 1½ x 7/16 inches with a replaceable strap. The replaceable battery can last for more than 9 months which is much longer in comparison to similar products that can only last for one month. Moreover, the long battery life can ensure the monitoring can be continuously carried out at all times, including during outdoor activities because Tracmo CareActive Watch is equipped with Bluetooth 5 and IPX5 waterproof rating. As a result, 24/7 actigraph with indoor location information can be generated with the additional use of Tracmo Station and cloud service. The cloud is built on AWS serverless to offer a highly reliable and powerful platform which able to process big data analysis. The data can also be automatically synchronized and rerouted to your certified cloud territory to comply with your IRB for Human Subjects.

“The Tracmo CareActive Watch’s user-friendly app allowed our sample of elderly research participants to complete self-installation with minimum frustration,” according to Dr. Levenson. “By having people with dementia and their familial caregivers both wear CareActive Watches, we are able to monitor and analyze longitudinal changes in movement and in-home location during individual activities and social interactions. This data is useful in helping us predict changes in the health and wellbeing of participants in our research studies.”

Tracmo CareActive Watch is easy to use. The participants just need to complete the first-time setup of the Tracmo Station, and then turn on & wear the Tracmo CareActive Watch. Then, Tracmo CareActive Watch will start broadcasting the data, including the motion activities and the locations of both patients and caregivers, and then the broadcasted data will be collected by the Tracmo Station to be encrypted first before sending it to the Tracmo cloud. The data will be analyzed to generate the actigraph report that can be accessed by the researchers.

The chart above can show specifically in which room both patient and caregiver are located at a specific time which then we can use to measure the intensity of their social interactions. For example, the subjects are being together for a long time in the living room, or they are separated in different rooms during a specific time frame.

On the report shown above, each color indicates one particular role, for example, if the gray color is the patient’s activity, the orange color is the caregiver’s activity. Both activity data are synchronized to produce the chart. The shape indicates the amount of movement, the dot means there are fewer movements, and the bigger the circle means the more movements or activities happen. Vertically, the shorter the distance between the orange color and gray color, the shorter the location distance between the patient and the caregiver.

The research goal is to utilize various activity indicators to establish behavioral analysis models, to predict the behavior changes, and to give early warnings of potential risks of mental health for caregivers. The ongoing study has shown that wearing CareActive Watch helps increase the self-awareness of patients and caregivers and improve the relationships through self-monitoring. It benefits not only dementia patients but also caregivers’ mental health. For future studies, the synchronization of activities and physiological indicators can be widely applied to behavioral prediction in other relationships, such as marriage, parenting, and education fields.

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About Berkley Psychophysiology Laboratory ☓ Tracmo Partnership
Dr. Robert W. Levenson and his team are working in the areas of human psychophysiology and affective neuroscience, both of which involve studying the interplay between psychological and physiological processes. UC Berkeley Psycho Lab chooses Tracmo CareActive Watch because of Tracmo’s outstanding power management and actigraph technologies. Dr. Robert W. Levenon and Dr. Kuan Chen have been working with the Tracmo team since late 2018 for making the CareActive Watch and its data collections. The CareActive service for the research project was launched in February 2020.