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NTU involved in new robotics project to support older people

Nottingham Trent University is involved in a £400,000 project to create a friendly robotic service for preventive care amongst older adults at risk of frailty.

The study aims to reduce the impact of frailty in the UK care and health system (Generic image)

The I’M-ACTIVE project, led by Sheffield Hallam University, will combine emergent technologies to assess home-based tasks, identify weaknesses, and provide tailored motivation for an active lifestyle.

Researchers will analyse the benefits and limitations of the emerging robotic and sensor technologies for intervention on community engagement of older adults and their evaluation of the acceptability, affordability, and accessibility. The project will also involve policy makers, practitioners, carers and potential users in the co-production of the technology.

The study aims to reduce the impact of frailty in the UK care and health system. NHS England has estimated that 3% of aged 65 and older are severely frail and another 12% are moderately frail, which means a total of about 1.8 million people in the UK. The incidence and prevalence of frailty are having a profound impact on all aspects of the UK economy and society.

The project will be carried out by a team led by Professor Alessandro Di Nuovo, an experienced researcher in healthcare innovation, and includes Dr Sally Fowler-Davis, associate professor in health and care at Sheffield Hallam, Professor Suvo Mitra and Dr Daniele Magistro from Nottingham Trent University, and Professor Massimiliano Zecca from Loughborough University.

Alessandro Di Nuovo, Professor of Machine Intelligence, said: “I am looking forward to working with the interdisciplinary team to define the sociotechnical principles for an acceptable robotic solution that enables older adults to self-manage the risk of frailty. Unlike similar past projects, this project has a strong focus on Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) to regularly guide the research toward solutions that have a clear pull from patients and professionals.

“PPIE will allow us to produce new AI technologies that can be useful to the public, particularly to take into consideration equality, diversity and inclusion. Indeed, we will collaborate with local health and care providers like Darnall Wellbeing, which operates in of the most deprived areas of Sheffield.”

The project is hosted by the Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), LU Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering and NTU Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre.

Dr Daniele Magistro, a researcher in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology said: “Frailty can increase demand for healthcare services and raise the risk of deterioration and dependence. It is possible to prevent or manage frailty by maintaining an active lifestyle and attending to social and emotional wellbeing. Unfortunately, healthcare systems are currently unable to provide the necessary assistance. Therefore, this project is crucial to do so.”

Professor Massimiliano Zecca, an expert in healthcare technology at Loughborough University, said: “We are facing the dual challenge of accurately measuring functional and cognitive parameters in the home environment, which is the truest reflection of an older person's abilities, and also developing a system that users will be willing to have in their homes. This entails designing and developing a user-friendly system that satisfies their needs and preferences. We are confident that the results of I'M-ACTIVE will pave the way for new intervention options that can help frail elderly individuals maintain an active lifestyle and improve their social and emotional wellbeing. This is essential to reduce the burden on healthcare systems.”

UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. This project is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

NTU involved in new robotics project to support older people

Published on 13 March 2023
  • Subject area: Sciences including sport sciences
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology; School of Social Sciences

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