Early detection of "Alzheimer's" or innovation in polytechnic education: CIIRC CTU cooperates with the Prague Innovation Institute

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The Memorandum of Cooperation was concluded by the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC CTU) with the Prague Institute of Innovation (Pii) in January 2021. Cooperation on specific projects that bring added value to the inhabitants of Prague has now materialized several times. The first of the projects will help schools to create support programs for teachers in the field of polytechnic education. The second aims to create a tool for early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The Future Learning Space project is aimed at primary schools and focuses on robotics and computer thinking. Educational materials and cognitive training will contribute to the development of the concept of polytechnic education and provide modern competencies for teachers and consequently for students. The aim is an innovative change in education at selected 15 Prague primary schools.

„The project will create a concept of so-called educational corners, which will be based on the international concept of Future Learning Space and support for teaching 4C – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication,“ describes the project doc. Lenka Lhotská, Head of the Department of Cognitive Systems and Neuroscience at CIIRC CTU. „We are preparing trainings, workshops, mentoring and other activities that will develop teachers‘ abilities and skills to effectively use the present digital technologies and integrate mechatronic robotic kits into teaching,“ adds doc. Lhotská.

Part of teacher education is also cognitive training, which will focus on the mental and physical resilience of teachers and the development of the ability to induce the so-called state of FLOW. Educators belong to one of the most mentally overburdened groups and the optimal mental state is crucial for managing their demanding work tasks.

The second within the innovation partnership is a project aimed at creating a tool for early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, its implementation will begin in October 2021. The project was supported by social care institutions of the capital, whose clients can significantly improve their lives by health care.

„In this project, we target clients of residential services and homes for the elderly, who are cognitively OK at that time. Long-term monitoring may reveal gradual changes and indicate neurodegenerative diseases. Thanks to the early detection of the problem, these people can become candidates for treatment that slows down the disease, „says doc. Lenka Lhotská.

Lenka Lhotská and her colleagues have even higher ambitions in this area in the future. Once the results have been verified and the methodology confirmed, the program could go directly to the GP offices. Not only those who are predisposed to neurodegenerative diseases could easily be tested, but also regular people in productive age who would enter specialist clinics before they or their families had experienced a problem.

„I highly appreciate the fact that we, together with CIIRC CTU researchers, very quickly found specific ways to apply their knowledge in practice through projects that we are implementing for the capital city of Prague. It is the transfer of knowledge from research that is one of the main reasons for the existence of Pii, and cooperation with CIIRC CTU shows that we can do well – for the benefit of public interest and specific target groups – „says Bohumil Kartous, director of the Prague Innovation Institute.

Cooperation with the Prague Innovation Institute demonstrably leads to an effective approximation of the needs of the capital and the activities of the technical university located in the capital. It is thus one of the closest partners in the search for common goals in the field of innovation.