Two new technological innovations improving quality of life
TELUS LivingWell Companion
Launched in 2018, the TELUS LivingWell Companion Personal Emergency Response Service (PERS) is a wearable device that offers access to 24/7 emergency assistance and optional fall detection. The service starts at $25 per month with no equipment fees and comes in “Home” and “Go” versions. The Go version includes built-in GPS and works anywhere in Canada with cellular service, while the Home version works inside the home and requires a landline.
In an emergency, users can press the call button to enable two-way communication with a trained operator who can contact up to three family members or friends and, if necessary, dispatch emergency services. When triggered, the optional fall detection feature automatically connects to an operator who will dispatch emergency services if there is no response.
“People living with dementia have a higher risk of falling, and, while family members make every effort to help [them], a fall or medical emergency can occur at any time,” says Juggy Sihota, VP, Consumer Health, TELUS.
In 2019, TELUS acquired DirectAlert, a Quebec-based PERS company with more than 15 years of experience providing emergency response services across Canada. The acquisition makes TELUS the largest Canadian-owned provider of personal medical alert services, enhancing a key offering in its TELUS Health line of products, which includes virtual care.
“LivingWell Companion is one of TELUS Health’s many services empowering Canadians to take control of their health,” Sihota says.
Feedback from LivingWell Companion customers has been extremely positive.
“Some have expressed how it allows them to maintain an independent and active lifestyle and to continue doing the things they love while aging with dignity,” Sihota says. “Others have told us it saved their life.”
Steadi-One is a lightweight glove designed to reduce hand tremors. It uses the same earthquake-resistance technology found in high-rise buildings to stabilize the wrist and forearm while allowing for a full range of motion.
“We’re seeing our customers gain their independence and confidence. They’re getting back to doing the things they like best,” says Emile Maamary, Steadiwear’s (Steadi-One’s parent company) CMO and co-founder.
Steadiwear’s CEO and co-founder, Mark Elias, started working on Steadi-One more than three years ago. One winter afternoon, while Elias was visiting his grandmother for coffee, he noticed a slight shake in her hand. His grandmother has essential tremors, a condition that causes involuntary shaking. That day, as she took her first sip, her hands began to shake uncontrollably, causing her to spill her coffee and burn herself.
Shocked by this experience and at just how difficult daily activities were becoming for her, Elias consulted his aunt, a doctor who treats essential tremors. She told him treatment options were medications with side-effects, invasive surgeries, or botox injections, which all produced mixed results. Elias, a structural engineer by trade, was determined to find a better solution and began brainstorming ideas with his father, who is also a structural engineer.
“Mark’s father specializes in high-rise structural damping for earthquake design,” Maamary says. “They were able to expand this engineering application, and that’s when Steadi-One was born.”
Steadi-One combines a battery-free ball joint damper and a tuned-damper (steel rod that reduces the amplitude of mechanical vibrations) to stabilize the wrist and forearm when a hand tremor begins. Steadi-One has seen a success rate of 60 per cent in people who have used the technology and a clinical trial is currently underway to validate these claims. The device is registered as a Class I Medical Device in North America and has received grant support from both the federal and provincial governments in Canada.
Maamary says as sales continue to increase, Steadiwear’s vision is to build a network of “assistive technology clinics” across North America where users can try before they buy as a way to continually improve the product.
“We want to make this as light and small and affordable as possible to help as many people as we can who are suffering from tremors,” he says. [ ]