Dissertation Proposal

February 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm (Thesis)

Gillian Holmes – 0044504


The Use of Visual Displays to Benefit Patients in the Milford Care Centre


Milford Care Centre is a voluntary organisation that incorporates the following services:

  • Milford Hospice – with specialist in-patient and community based palliative care services
  • Milford Day Care Centre – older people and palliative care
  • Milford Nursing Home.

Milford is the main provider of palliative care in the Midwest region.

Palliative care aims to provide the best quality of life possible for a terminally ill patient and their family, including keeping the patient free from pain as far as is possible. It responds to physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs and extends to support in bereavement.  Whilst palliative care is aimed primarily at cancer patients, patients with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and HIV may be encountered in hospices. Patients with these diseases, however, remain a small minority of the total.

The symptoms of these illnesses include exhaustion, pain, fever, nausea, weaking of muscles, weakness and stiffening of the arms and legs. Blurred vision, loss of colour vision, visual and motor problems, depression, anxiety. These symptoms need to be accounted for when designing this new visual artefact.

Within the Milford care centre there is an Art Department, which is one of the few arts in healthcare initiatives in the country.  It is a permanent and integrated part of the multi disciplinary team, encompassing both art therapy and recreational approaches.

Art therapy may be an effective means of improving quality of life in the elderly. There is evidence that the non-directed use of visual art (pictures) as a means of encouraging communication among elderly nursing home residents may increase well-being, happiness, peacefulness, satisfaction, and calmness. It may also reduce blood pressure and improve medical health status with regard to reported dizziness, fatigue, pain, and the use of laxatives.  Also for cancer patients, art therapy may reduce pain, anxiety and other associated symptoms.

The care centre has a gym area where patients go to get physical therapy and to gain the maximum level of independence whatever their illness or disability.  Within the gym they have two MOTOmed bikes, an example is shown below.

These patented MotoMed bikes are designed to help patients with limited mobility to proactively contribute to the success of their physical therapy treatment with safe and effective movement therapy that enhances their muscle strength, and improves their confidence.

They provide:

    • Greater flexibility of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints
    • Improved circulation, digestion and metabolism
    • Reduced fluid retention, swelling and cramping
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Reduced osteoporosis

Positive effects of exercise including self-confidence, improved mental health and reduced pain!

Staff members introduced the idea of linking the exercise bikes in the physiotherapy gym to imagery so that patients can experience the feeling of a journey.  Patients with serious illness can often feel confined and trapped, this could provide options for them to visit certain destinations, or visual landscapes, which could enhance the patients well being and give them a therapeutic space in which they feel safe and relaxed.

We had a meeting in Milford with four students from the University of Limerick, the course director and staff members to discuss some ideas for this collaboration.  We didn’t decide on anything concrete as the project is in the initial stages.  We were asked to go away and come up with ideas for this new project.  I have outlined some of my own below.


The idea for this project is to have a visual display unit mounted on the wall in front of the MOTOmed bikes.  This could also be a projection on the wall depending on the equipment available.

The visual display could consist of still images in a slideshow format or a video displaying various locations from around the world including local and regional areas also.  We could even include outer space?

The display could move according to turns on the road, riding uphill etc.  This will have to be tested, as nausea is a factor with the patients.

The display could be controlled from a panel on the bike similar to the existing panel with large buttons for people with limited mobility.

Another idea could be to have a notice board beside the display to see where people have gone and when, almost like a travel blog.  Patients could see popular destinations and some options they mightn’t have even thought of.

A print out of the journeys could be available for the patients to look at after they finish their journey to see where they went and how long they spent there, etc.  This could be especially good for older patients who have more of an affinity with paper than technology.  They could share the information with friends and encourage them to participate.  This also presents an opportunity for relationships to develop between patients.

For the audio there could be an option to listen to headphones or to have the sound coming from the unit for everyone to hear.

The option could be there for the listeners to upload their own music (depending on the patients mobility and resources available).

The audio needn’t necessarily be music it could be a story regarding the area.  Maybe this story could be from a patient telling a story about their experiences in a certain location.  This way the patient feels like they are participating and part of the overall project.

Equipment Needed

o        Projector (depending if we choose this method)

o        Visual Display Unit (depending if we choose this method)

o        Computer

o        Software packages

o        Headphones

o        Microphones/Speakers

o        Panels to attach to the bike

o        Printer


We are hoping to keep the costs to a minimum by using recycled materials, the universities computer resources, donations and limerick freecycle group.  This group is part of The Freecycle Network, a nonprofit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff out of landfills.

The audio needn’t necessarily be music it could be a story regarding the area.  Maybe this story could be from a patient telling a story


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