Recently, at the 12th Annual Body Computing Conference, marines and senior citizens had more in common than meets the eye. The conference, hosted by the USC Center for Body Computing (CBC), focused on how individuals can benefit from digital health tools. Two highlighted studies from the conference looked at wearable sensors for military training and free ridesharing for seniors.
“Organizations need to make a commitment to digital health care and to align their cultures accordingly,” Leslie Saxon, MD, founder and executive director of the CBC, said in opening remarks at the conference. “It requires cultural change to commit to designing products that put individuals’ needs first and that are flexible enough to cover them 24/7.”
Wearables Measure Marine Success
The Marine Corp’s Basic Reconnaissance Course is an intense 120-day training program with both physical and mental trials. It’s also notorious for its high dropout rate of approximately 80 percent. A study, led by the CBC, used digital health tools to identify what personality traits determine if a Marine makes it through training. Using Apple watches and smartphone apps, the researchers collected physiological, behavioral and psychological data on trainees that were undergoing training at the reconnaissance course in Southern California.
The results showed that those who dropped out for safety concerns appeared to be less physically fit, while successful trainees remained optimistic throughout their entire training despite constant physical strain.
Seniors Take a Lyft
Oftentimes senior citizens lack the necessary means of transportation, inhibiting them from receiving the medical care they need. CBC was determined to solve this challenge, and started a study, sponsored by the AARP Foundation, that connected senior citizens with free Lyft rides around Los Angeles. Data showed the majority of seniors who used the ridesharing service increased their frequency of medical and social visits. Additionally, seniors who wore Fitbits during the study had more steps each day.