The "Informa" app to combat Alzheimer's from home


Thanks to funding from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova, the Regional Center for Cerebral Aging (CRIC) of the University of Padua Hospital in collaboration with the Department of Information Engineering (DEI) have developed a multi-technological telematics platform that offers cognitive stimulation and rehabilitation techniques for people with neurocognitive disorders, including those with Alzheimer's. The platform called ‘Informa’ allows users to perform a series of activities from home based on Cognitive Activation Therapy (CAT) protocols developed by CRIC in 2001. The efficacy of the therapy has been demonstrated with the published results from a sample of more than 240 patients.

The Informa software program uses both planning and training modules. The planning module offers therapists a web interface to create a personalized cognitive stimulation path for patients by combining different activities and exercises taken from the CAT protocol and transporting them to the digital world. The training module offers those with neurocognitive disorders an intuitive and functional tablet-friendly interface to perform rehabilitation activities defined by therapists. Unlike serious games available on the market, Informa allows the therapist not only to decide the type, number and degree of difficulty of exercises in the neurocognitive stimulation path but to adaptable themes and content based on the preferences of the end-user. The app also makes use of personal multimedia material (images, music, audio), to maximize the acceptance and rehabilitative effectiveness of the therapy. The application also collects statistical information from proposed activities, offering the therapist useful assessments of the user's neurocognitive conditions and remotely adapting the training program.

Following the initial test phase and positive results taken from approximately 20 volunteers, the Informa app has received favourable remarks from the Ethics Committee for Clinical Practice and the extension of an evaluation for wider use. The development of the project was made possible with the collaboration of an interdisciplinary team including Carlo Gabelli (Director of CRIC and Scientific Manager of the project), Andrea Zanella (Professor of Telecommunication Engineering at DEI, UniPD Vice-Rector of Information Technologies and ICT Communication and Technology Manager of the project), Donata Gollin (CRIC Speech Therapist), Marco Simoni (CRIC Speech Therapist and research grant recipient), by Cristina Ruaro (CRIC Psychologist), and Carlo Fantozzi (Computer Engineering Researcher at DEI).