July 30, 2019
Amish Embrace Technology to Help ChildrenFor years, the Amish – who by-and-large eschew modern technology –
Hae Young Noh, CEE associate professor, and her team are using sensors that collect data on human movement in the enclave’s community center – the only building with electricity – to help detect anomalies in the movement of the children there. Noh says the sensors detect footsteps, which, like fingerprints, are unique to each individual person. The data generated can detect unsteadiness, cognitive and mobility decline, and predict falls. Such information in young children would be unusual, and, allows for early detection – and early treatment – of Muscular Dystrophy in the community.
“I think it tells you that Muscular Dystrophy is a really big deal for the Amish Community,” Noh says.
A doctor from Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital had approached Noh and Pei Zhang, Noh’s research partner
Mostafa Mirshekari and Jonathon Fagert, both
“That’s the beauty of working as a researcher, especially in academia,” she says. “One project leads to another and it’s always something I never knew before. I really appreciate all these interactions, and all the feedback people give us. For
Prior to applying her research in the health care realm, Noh worked with sensors to measure the structural integrity of buildings and bridges after events such as earthquakes. She later began doing research into using the sensors to generate data to help buildings themselves adapt to the activity and needs of people inside.
Noh says research is being done to determine if the sensors can also be used to detect unauthorized people entering restricted
Inspired, in part, by a grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, Noh finds fulfillment in being able to use the technology to help predict falls and cognitive decline or other potentially dangerous circumstances encountered by the elderly and hospital patients. Not only do the sensors help staff better care for their patients,
“For them, having regular activity is very important for their quality of life,” Noh says. “This enables the elderly to walk more. This technology helps so they are not afraid of walking on their own. That’s the best way to have them stay healthy for a long time.”