There’s plenty to get excited about in terms of how technology can help health care providers and patients. No wonder well-respected publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and leading organizations such as the National Institutes of Health consistently run articles and academic papers on everything from robotic assisted technology to mHealth (the accepted abbreviation for mobile health).

True, not every health care facility can make use of all the emerging technologies, but the majority of them recognize that technology shouldn’t be ignored.

At a senior neighborhood campus in Kansas, staff make use of advancements whenever possible to improve clients’ overall wellness.

Three technologies in particular have given the team a measurable impact on the population it serves: a specialized software program, an advanced therapy pool, and exercise equipment using pre-programming technology.

Platforms Keep Clients’ Data Accessible, Accurate

Every senior at the community has a wide range of information about his or her health, and being able to store that information in one easily accessible remote location, like an encrypted server, has been a boon for them and their caregivers.

Having invested in software that offers a platform to record clients’ health histories, goals, exercises, routines, and assessment data, it enables the community to run real-time reports, which provide baseline data as well as current data.

Logins are only available on a “need to know” basis; however, the patient can personally look up anything from a remote location.

Men and women at the center enjoy being able to use the program to record their medications, supplements, daily blood pressure, weight, and more. It’s more robust than most trainer apps because of its medical history component.

One of the biggest advantages for the community is utilizing all clients’ data (anonymously) to provide a “snapshot” of the senior community and the people it serves. It enables staff to explore trends and prepare new programming.

Plus, it’s a definite selling point for getting seniors more invested in the center.

Exercise Options Turn Techno

While pools aren’t a new technology, specialized therapy pools with variable-depth treadmill floors certainly are. At the community in Kansas, staff invested several years ago in a therapy pool with an underwater treadmill and resistance jets and incorporated it into their rehabilitation offerings and exercise regimens.
It is not only a safe environment, but it also eliminates the worries and risks associated with falling. This leads to an increase in self-confidence that fuels healthier behaviors.

As part of the community’s fall prevention program, the therapy pool is used to ensure participants get effective results. The resistance jets provide an advanced atmosphere to explore gravity training, thus improving strength and balance.

Percentage levels can be recorded for all participants in their personal history records, which are kept on the computer, as noted above. Also, participants can be moved in different directions and angles, worked at different speeds and at different depth levels to challenge them at higher levels.

With the adjustable treadmill floor, there is the ability to change the depth from zero to six feet. As the participant completes a task at a comfortable level, the floor can be slowly moved up, challenging the participant’s balance more and moving the person toward taking the application to a land-based task.
Plus, with a treadmill at the bottom of the floor, speeds can be varied to fit the task and the participant’s level.

Thus far, there has been an overall 45 percent increase in center of gravity, 64 percent increase in lower body strength, and 35 percent increase in agility in participants, thanks to the program and the therapy pool.

Pre-Programmed For Success

The third technological advancement that the community finds vital is programmable exercise equipment, enabling staff to pre-program different workout levels for residents. The machines are self-adjusting and automatically provide the resident with proper weight amount and seat setting.

Because the program allows staff to constantly switch up the workout, clients are never stuck doing “the same thing.”

This equipment is a great marriage between technology and simplicity, especially for the senior age population. Residents aren’t always comfortable on gym equipment; with programmable equipment, they get a well-rounded routine without needing a staff person or personal trainer by their side.

Plus, they can use the therapy pool for endurance exercises and then switch to land-based equipment for strength training as part of a circuit.

Then, they can record their workouts using a specialized software program. It all works together, which is the aim of any community incorporating different technologies into its day-to-day operations.

As more technologies bubble to the surface, health care providers at all levels would be wise to investigate the possibilities for the populations they serve.

Eventually, the Generation X and Generation Y members of today will be in need of senior care.
They will not be as reluctant to embrace technological breakthroughs as their modern counterparts sometimes are. Therefore, health care leaders need to be ready to serve them at their comfort zones.

Jackie Halbin is a living well manager in Kansas. She is a Master FallProof and FallProof H2O instructor and is Aquatic Exercise Association-certified. She can be reached at (914) 744-2422.