Alma-based InvoTek recently received a Small Business Innovation Research grant of $150,288 from the National Institute on Aging.
The grant will fund the development of a training tool to help caregivers provide the appropriate amount of assistance and support to people with dementia. The initial version of the tool will focus on the daily activity of dressing.
“Dressing is the way we present who we are to others,” Tom Jakobs, InvoTek president, said in a statement. “Training caregivers to provide the right level of assistance is a key component of helping a person with dementia retain their abilities, reduce stress, and maintain self-confidence.”
The most recognized form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating brain disease that leaves no survivors.
“Over 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with 60,000 living right here in Arkansas,” said Jack Eaton, Senior Director of Arkansas Operations, Alzheimer’s Association. “As baby boomers turn age 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, those numbers will rapidly escalate and so will the need for support and care.”
The project will involve building a web-based simulator that enables caregivers to practice assistance strategies and receive immediate feedback through video responses of a man who appears to have mild dementia. InvoTek will collaborate with dementia researchers Cornelia Beck, PhD and Pao-Feng Tsai, PhD from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Elizabeth Speck-Kern, PhD, a Little Rock psychologist.
Founded in 1988, InvoTek specializes in applying technology to the needs of people with severe disabilities. InvoTek also established the Be Extraordinary program in cooperation with the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission. The program identifies people with severe disabilities who want to accomplish a life goal. The goal can be wide ranging — improved participation in their health care, access to books, better communication with family or friends, the ability to advocate on their own behalf, or accomplish an educational or vocational goal. Be Extraordinary uses tax-deductible contributions from generous donors to fund these projects.