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Eureka Challenge Winners Help Lighten the Load of Life With Alzheimer Disease

Three teams have won more than $350,000 for their technologic advances in ways to improve the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer disease.


 

Mobile applications and other tech solutions that target the specific needs of patients with Alzheimer and their caregivers won the day in the first Eureka prize competition, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

The Improving Care for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Using Technology (iCare-AD/ADRD) Challenge received 33 applications for mobile device applications or web-based methods to help users coordinate and navigate life with dementia. The judging was based on creativity and innovation, rationale and potential impact, value to relevant stakeholders, usability, and functionality and feasibility.

First place, with $250,000, went to MapHabit for mobile software that provides behavior prompts with customizable picture-and-keyword visual maps to help people with activities of daily living. The platform has different interfaces for users: people with impaired memory, caregiver, or long-term care community manager. Simple commands, such as “take a shower,” are scheduled, with feedback provided to caregivers. The system takes advantage of the brain’s habit (procedural) memory system, the researchers say, rather than the hippocampal (declarative) memory system that is damaged early in AD.

A team from University of California, Los Angeles, won second prize of $100,000 for their web-based Dementia Care Software system, which helps coordinate complex medical and social services. The software, which can be integrated into any of the leading electronic health record systems, has already been used in support of the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, a nurse-practitioner co-management approach that includes structured needs assessment, individualized dementia care plans, and round-the-clock access for assistance and advice. The researchers say more than 2,600 patients with dementia have participated in the program so far.

Caregiver411, developed by researchers from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, won the third-place prize of $50,000. The mobile app helps people make informed decisions by, for instance, capturing the care recipient’s stage of AD in order to provide targeted recommendations. Dementia caregivers can obtain tailored resources related to mental, emotional, physical, social, legal, and financial concerns. The app also gives them a forum for social connections and family chat groups through a messaging center.

The Eureka Challenge is part of the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in 2016, designed to help accelerate medical product development with innovations incorporating the perspectives of patients. More detailed project descriptions are available at www.nia.nih.gov/challenge-prize.

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