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Drexel Awarded Grant to Create a LED Luminaire to Improve Health of Dementia Patients

February 10, 2012

Drexel Grant for Dementia Drexel University has recently received a grant from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) for a project entitled: “Ameliorating Symptoms of Dementia at St. Francis Country House: Evidence-Based Design study of the efficacy of a daylight-matching, low-energy LED luminaire prototype.” The lead investigator on this project is Eugenia Victoria Ellis, Associate Professor, dual appointment with Drexel University College of Engineering and Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. As a dementia consultant and architect, Dr. Ellis was invited by St. Francis Country House to evaluate the interior design of their fourth floor dementia unit. Dr. Ellis proposed a daylight-matching LED luminaire as one design solution. Co-investigators are Donald McEachron, Research Professor & Associate Director, Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems; Michael Glaser, Product Design Program Director and Assistant Professor, Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design; Elizabeth Gonzalez, Associate Professor, Drexel University Division of Graduate Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice Department.   

A $20,000 grant from the Green Building Alliance (with internal matching funds of an additional $42,875) will develop the proof-of-concept for the LED luminaire, which will be installed at St Francis later this year. The team is in the process of developing the light fixture with Appalachian Lighting Systems, Inc. in Elwood, PA.

The $34,650 grant from the American Society of Interior Designers will provide funding for Drexel to work with the Center for Health and Design on the Evidence-Based Design evaluation of this daylight-matching light fixture to determine its effectiveness to reduce symptoms of dementia in elderly residents at the St. Francis Country House. The LED luminaire will address the dual sustainability issues of energy efficiency and health/well-being of St. Francis Country House occupants by providing quality illumination for visual tasks and synchronizing biological rhythms for better health, cognitive ability and performance for patients. The project is intended to continue until December 2013.

“If successful, then the daylight-matching LED luminaire could become a state-of-the-art light fixture that improves health outcomes while reducing energy use for a variety of applications including the health care, commercial and manufacturing industries, as well as a lighting solution to support “aging in place,” said Dr Ellis. The luminaire could also be used to help relieve seasonal affective disorder.