Develop movement stimulation for people with dementia, individually or with the co-operation of their carer


Author: Van 't Hof, Y.
Contributor: Van de Geer, S.G., Van Doorn, F.A.P., Post, K.
Faculty: Industrial Design Engineering
Department: Industrial Design
Type: Master thesis
Date: 23-4-2013
Keywords: Dementia | Moving | Reminiscence | Contextmapping | Carer 

View on TU Delft Repository


Nowadays dementia is a common disease; around 250.000 people in the Netherlands suffer from dementia. It is a collective term for diseases characterized by memory problems, intellectual problems and changes in behavior. The process of dementia can never be reversed, but moving seems to be a solution to delay the process. With dementia there is a decay of the neurons in the brain, while in other parts there is atrophy (shrivelling of the cells). These nerve cells become smaller, but there is still metabolism in those cells. This means that these areas in the brain can be reactivated. By moving with the body, the shrivelled brain cells can be reactivated, which can possibly delay the process of dementia.

The aim of this graduation project is to identify the needs and wishes of the visitors of the meeting center and their carers in terms of movement, in order to design something to stimulate the visitors to move, individually or with the co-operation of their carer, in order to delay the process of dementia.

Literature research is performed in order to find information about dementia and user research is performed to gain information about the needs and wishes of both visitors and carers regarding movement. The main conclusion was that a lot of things the visitor and carer loved to do together in the past are not possible anymore. It was often mentioned that they would love to cycle again. Another conclusion was that the visitors like the social contact they have with other visitors when doing physical activities together at the meeting center.

The results from the analysis and research are used during a brainstorm and to create a design vision. In general, the design vision is to develop movement stimulation for the visitor, individually or with the co-operation of their carer or another visitor. In order to stimulate the visitors to move, it is important to have something that motivates them to keep moving. All visitors and carers share an extensive history and have a lot of memories about the past. Photos can be used to recall these memories, because people with mild dementia can still talk about the past quite well. Recalling memories from the past by using photos is called reminiscence. This is something that probably can be used as motivation; in order to see a (new) photo the user needs to move. Besides photos, music can also be used to reminiscence.

After generating different idea direction, the chosen direction is ‘cycling in exchange for photos or music’. This direction makes it possible for the visitor to make the cycling movement again. A kind of bike trainer is used to ensure that the visitor can sit on a chair while he makes the well-known cycling movement. During cycling the visitor can hold handlebars in order to increase the ‘cycling feeling’. On top of these handlebars a tablet pc is attached on which photos and music can be shown. As long as the visitor is cycling, photos or music are shown on the screen, but if the visitor stops cycling, the slideshow of the photos or music pauses. This needs to be the motivation for the visitor to continue cycling. While the visitor is making the cycling movement, the carer or another visitor can sit next to him, in order to talk together about the things that are shown on the screen. Due to this they can recall memories from the past. At the same time watching photos is memory training, because the visitor needs to think about the things he sees on the screen.

A prototype of the product is made in order to test the product. The user test turned out that all visitors and carers like to use the product. They really like to see the photos (especially the personal photos) or hear the music while they are cycling. Some of them mentioned that it is more pleasant to use this product than the exercise bike they have at home. Asking the visitors on another day if they would like to use the product again, they all said yes.

Moving and memory training are two important aspects in the meeting center. This product combines both aspects, which ensures that the product indeed fits the vision of the meeting center. The employees of the meeting center are really enthusiastic about the product. They like the idea that the visitors will see photos or hear music while they are cycling. They can imagine that if the product would be located at the meeting center the visitors will use it, although they would need to stimulate the visitors because they would not take the initiative themselves.