RERC TechSAge: MS Assistant - A Health and Wellness Self-Management App for Individuals Aging With Multiple Sclerosis

Jon A. Sanford
Ljilja Ruzic Kascak

A majority of individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a significant decline in their abilities due to the progression of MS after five years post-diagnosis. Following this period, they need to learn how to cope with the functional limitations caused by the disease and how to age with MS. They must manage effects of the disease on their lives on a daily basis. Self-management activities can help with this challenge.

MS Assistant is a health and wellness self-management app that assists individuals aging with MS to understand their disease by monitoring all the factors that possibly contribute to the symptoms and keeping track of the changes and what causes them in order to identify triggers and patterns. All that data is available to their healthcare providers with the alerts sent to them in a case of emergency or a special need. In addition, the app integrates storing all the relevant health and wellness data in one place, communicating with other individuals with MS to get the information and support from others who understand what they are going through, setting up the goals and finding the needed MS-related information, playing the games to improve their cognition and balance, remote health monitoring, and calling emergency contacts. This evidence-based app provides their users with the complete health and wellness picture based on its input data, and a way to self-manage MS. It presents a holistic and comprehensive self-management tool for its end-users. The long-term goal is to develop the version of this app for the healthcare providers, caregivers, and family members, and to apply this self-management tool to other chronic diseases.

Dr. Chantal Kerssens

CIDI advocates for usability, inclusivity, and accessibility for all. Our center collaborates with colleagues, friends, designers, and innovators to expand the awareness around the importance of incorporating accessibility into design. Our goal is to impart the importance and value of a disability, because accessibility affects all aspects of our lives. Our center is excited and prepared to continue to share knowledge and ideas on the next steps in accessibility and inclusion.

The Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI) was created by a merger of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and AMAC Accessibility.

CATEA grew out of collaborations in the late 1970s between Georgia Tech Industrial Design students and local disability groups. Their efforts led to the establishment of CATEA in 1980 by the Board of Regents. For more than 20 years, CATEA provided services for Georgia's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, established the statewide TechKnowledge information clearinghouse on assistive technology, hosted various national resource centers on assistive technology for the workplace, provided accessibility audits for public facilities and information technology to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and produced computer skill and adult education programs. By the early 2000s, CATEA had transformed from a service-oriented center into a full-fledged research center.

AMAC Accessibility started in 2005 as the Alternative Media Access Center to help post-secondary institutions provide complete, timely, and efficient accommodations to print-disabled students. This began with e-text production, and by 2009 had expanded into braille, captioning, and audio description. By 2010, AMAC transitioned to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where it became a research and service center of Georgia Tech's College of Design in 2013 known as AMAC Accessibility Solutions & Research Center. In 2017, as a leader in content engineering designed to increase accessibility globally in the post-secondary industry, it simplified its name to AMAC Accessibility.