Feasibility of Using Heart Rate Variability to Detect Agitation De-escalation in an Individualised Music Intervention

By Kristine Newman, Belkacem Chikhaoui and Alex Mihailidis.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Agitation negatively affects quality of life for people with dementia. Music may de-escalate agitation, but it can be difficult to detect changes in agitation visually. Heart rate variability (HRV) has been proposed as a measure of agitation as well as an indicator of emotional response to music. This paper reports the findings of a pilot study that assessed the feasibility of using intelligent assistive technologies to assess HRV in response to a therapeutic music intervention. It was important to test feasibility before implementation with a vulnerable dementia population, so we conducted this pilot with ten healthy university students. We measured HRV using wearable sensors during an individualised music intervention. The results provide valuable information that can be applied to help select the most appropriate method for recognising de-escalating behaviours of individuals in an agitated state using a new kind of wearable sensor. Because the participants were healthy, further refinement will be needed before implementing this kind of individualised intervention for persons with dementia.

Keywords: Agitation, Heart Rate Variability, Individualised Music, Sensors

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, June 2017, pp.67-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 936.336KB).

Dr. Kristine Newman

Assistant Professor, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Belkacem Chikhaoui

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Alex Mihailidis

Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada