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PolyU pioneers nursing education with first-of-its-kind VR learning system “Virtual Hospital”

Nursing education mainly comprises classroom teaching and clinical practice. Yet, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected amid the epidemic. With a view to enhancing the learning outcomes of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” which makes use of virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education. Virtual Hospital is a first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”. More than 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.  

15 Aug, 2022

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Secretary for Food and Health visits the Caroline Hill Road Community Vaccination Centre today

Professor Sophia CHAN, Secretary for Food and Health, today visited the Caroline Hill Road Pop-up Community Vaccination Centre (PCVC) in Causeway Bay, which is operated by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in a non-profit-making mode, and commenced operation on 29 March 2022. Accompanied by PolyU President Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, Professor CHAN toured the centre to understand its operation and gave encouragement to the medical team on duty. She also expressed her gratitude to the University to support the Government’s vaccination programme.   Supported by a team of 300 students, teaching staff and alumni from PolyU’s School of Nursing, the Caroline Hill Road PCVC offers the BioNTech vaccination to people aged 12 or above. The School’s final year students will assist in the administration of the vaccine under the supervision and support of the teaching staff and alumni who are experienced registered nurses. The Caroline Hill Road PCVC is open daily from 8am to 8pm and will operate until the end of June. Learn more about PolyU’s initiatives to help fight the pandemic in Hong Kong:

31 Mar, 2022


PolyU’s School of Nursing strongly supports the Caroline Hill Road Pop-up Community Vaccination Centre; Chief Executive and Secretary for the Civil Service visit the Centre today

Vaccination is paramount to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the community demand for vaccination, the Hong Kong SAR Government has established the Caroline Hill Road Pop-up Community Vaccination Centre (PCVC) in Causeway Bay, which commenced operation today (29 March). Located at the site provided by Hysan Development and the Chinachem Group, the PCVC is fully supported by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The University is operating the PCVC in a non-profit-making mode to help the community battle the pandemic.  

29 Mar, 2022


Schools of Nursing at PolyU and Tung Wah College join hands to conduct N95 respirator fit tests for community isolation facility healthcare practitioners from Hong Kong Baptist University

Wearing the correct size of respirator properly can reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19 for frontline healthcare practitioners. Recently, the Schools of Nursing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Tung Wah College (TWC) are collaborating to jointly conduct N95 respirator fit tests at TWC’s Integrative Health Centre for over 200 nursing staff and students from Hong Kong Baptist University’s (HKBU) School of Continuing Education (SCE) who will be working at the Kai Tai Holding Centre. The latter will be looking after elderly COVID-19 patients who have mild symptoms or those who have recovered but cannot yet return home or to their care homes.

25 Mar, 2022


PolyU stands together with the Hong Kong community in collaborative efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

18 Mar, 2022


PolyU stands together with the Hong Kong community in collaborative efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Hong Kong is battling an unprecedented wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is committed to supporting the Government’s efforts on various fronts in the fight against the pandemic. Over 700 PolyU students, alumni and staff have signed up to support community vaccination and testing programmes and provide assistance to different groups in need. They are part of PolyU’s collaborative efforts with the community in support of the Government’s anti-pandemic measures. Supporting elderly care homes and senior citizens has become paramount given the Omicron variant’s threat in the fifth wave outbreak. PolyU’s School of Nursing is teaming up with a number of local and Mainland China donors to provide more than 200 nursing homes with supplies, including 44,000 rapid antigen test kits, 200,000 sets of personal protective equipment (including face shields and N95 respirators), and 100 pulse oximeters. These enthusiastic donors and partners include the Zhongnanshan Medical Foundation of Guangdong Province, Guangdong Hecin Scientific, Teochew International Federation and the Federation of Hong Kong Chiu Chow Community Organizations, Peking University Alumni Association Shenzhen Branch, Koch Biotechnology (Beijing), Guangdong Biolight Meditech, and Wuhan Tianhe Ruiyuan Technology. The distribution of the supplies has been rolled out in phases to address the needs of the elderly and nursing home staff and help safeguard their health. Professor David SHUM, Chair Professor of Neuropsychology and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, said, “PolyU has been closely working together with the Hong Kong community in the fight against COVID-19. For the past two years of the pandemic, we have been relentlessly supporting the authorities in their contact tracing efforts, and applying our research and innovation capabilities to support frontline healthcare workers and the general public. PolyU will continue to draw on its expertise from various fields and make new contributions to the Government’s anti-pandemic efforts.”  

11 Mar, 2022

Biggest-ever funding in the School of Nursing kicks off community participatory research to reduce COVID-19

The School of Nursing alongside the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences in PolyU have secured a total of HK$ 55.88 million from the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) of the Food and Health Bureau, HK Government. This is the second* COVID-19 related HMRF fund that we have received and the biggest research support the School has ever obtained.   The study entitled ‘A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach to Reduce the Covid-19 Risk in Hong Kong: Developing and Testing Social and Behavioural Interventions’ is led by Prof. Alex Molasiotis**[Angel S.P. Chan Lau Professor in Health and Longevity] , Chair Professor of Nursing and Head of the School of Nursing. The study is among the 18 research proposals approved for funding by HMRF recently. This 4-year programme of research is funded with over HK$ 27.6 million.    The research study consists of five individual but inter-related projects targeting different groups in the society, such as ethnic minorities, caregivers of persons with chronic illness, students and the general workforce, with a common theme: Applying digital technology to enhance COVID-19 related health literacy, adherence to hygiene practices and infection control policies, as well as vaccination and early testing rates. Two eye-catching digital innovations in this programme of research are the AI-driven Vaccine Communicator and Virtual Reality Game-based Educational Intervention. The former is a web-based psycho-educational programme that incorporates the AI-driven Digital Assistant, which engages users in interactive communications and motivational interviewing skills, as well as providing relevant and effective information in addressing their hesitancy towards vaccines. The latter applies virtual reality technology to help school children learn about the routes of infection of COVID-19 and its reproduction in the host. It aims to improve hand-hygiene compliance, respiratory etiquette, and knowledge of early testing among primary school students.   Another uniqueness of this programme of research lies on its community-based participatory approach. The planning and development of health educational programmes is usually professionally-oriented with limited inputs from recipients. The research team, however, attempts to break away from the traditional top-down approach and will adopt a community-based participatory bottom-up approach to engage the health education recipients in idea exchange, discussions, and creating and evaluating the educational materials to ensure that the interventions are appropriate and culturally specific to them. ‘We are going to listen to the stakeholders and integrate their views into the development of the interventions to address their needs and specific conditions,’ said Prof. Alex Molasiotis, ‘This engagement will also enhance the community capacity to respond to future health challenges and achieve more sustainable and impactful results.’ *Prof. Angela Leung’s (Principal Investigator) ‘Blended Gaming COVID-19 Training System’ (prototype) was one of the COVID-19 commissioned research projects selected by the Food and Health Bureau last year and her team was given over HK$1.2 million from the HMRF for developing and implementing the system.   **Prof. Alex Molasiotis (Principal Applicant), Prof. Angela Leung, Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PI); Dr Grace Xie (Co-PI), Dr Grace Ho (Co-PI), Dr Yan Li (Co-PI), PolyU’s School of Nursing; Dr Polly Leung (Co-PI) [PolyU’s Department of Health Technology and Informatics]; Dr Jenny Hua Li Wang, Family Medicine and Primary Healthcare (FMPH), Hospital Authority (HA); Dr Catherine Xiao Rui Chen, FMPH, HA; and Dr Danny Wah Kun Tong, Senior Manager (Nursing)/Principal Nursing Officer, HA.

24 Sep, 2021


VR training system for older adults with cognitive frailty

Cognitive frailty is characterised by the presence of both physical frailty and cognitive impairment, which is a common clinical syndrome among community-dwelling older people. To help those older adults maintain their cognitive functions and simultaneously improve their motor abilities for carrying out activities of daily living, Dr Rick Kwan (principal Investigator) and his team* collaborated with Pok Oi Hospital to develop the Virtual Reality (VR) Motor-Cognitive Game-based Training System and a study was carried out to evaluate its effectiveness. The VR system was funded by the Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living, the Innovation and Technology Bureau with HK$ 2.9 million. The system provides virtual space mimicking real environments, such as simulated road conditions in Hong Kong. When users put on the wireless VR headset, they are taken on a journey to complete tasks of activities of daily living. Following the on-screen instructions and by riding on the ergometer exercise bike, players ‘walk’ around streets to reach a shop or a supermarket to buy daily commodity by themselves, or ‘walk’ to a bus stop and travel to different destinations. The VR training system provides 16 levels of tasks with increasing difficulties to enhance the cognitive functions of players. The resistance level of the ergometer exercise bike can also be adjusted corresponding to the training need. Players have to attend two (30-minute each) VR sessions per week for a total of eight-week for achieving health benefits. Seventeen older adults with cognitive frailty from one elderly centre under Pok Oi Hospital were recruited to participate in the pilot study. Those in the intervention group receiving the VR training showed a significant improvement in cognitive function, including calculation, memory, reaction and attention, than their controlled counterparts, who received motor and cognitive training separately (each session included a 15-minute cycling and 15-minute cognitive tablet games or newspaper reading). ‘The players can apply the skills they have learnt in the VR game to their daily lives,’ said Dr Kwan. The research team aims at applying the VR system to a total of 648 elderly by the end of next year (2022). They also hope to develop a multiplayer mode that includes more tasks such as babysitting their grandchildren. Click here to see the demonstration of our VR motor-cognitive training system. *Co-investigators include Prof. Kenneth Fong, Professor, PolyU’s Department of Rehabilitation Sciences; Dr Justina Liu, Dr Harry Qin, Associate Professors, and Dr Claudia Lai, Honorary Professor; Ms Lydia Suen and Ms Man-kei Tse, Research Associates, School of Nursing, PolyU. 

8 Sep, 2021


New AI system provides a convenient way to detect dementia risk

Dr Thomas Choi, Professor, (Principle Investigator) and his team* announced to the public the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) system that automates the assessment of the risk of dementia with an average precision of up to 88% at a press conference held in May. Prof Choi and Dr Xiao Shen, (Postdoctoral Fellow, left the School in 2021) a key developer of the AI algorithm, have applied a patent for the system in the United States. Currently about 35% of dementia cases are attributed to risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity, depression, and smoking. Dementia risk is also associated with many non-cognitive conditions, such as cardiovascular conditions, nutrition, mobility, and depression. Early detection of people with high risk of dementia enables early modification of lifestyle, timely diagnosis and intervention. Health care professionals around the globe commonly use the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a cognitive screening tool to identify people with cognitive impairment, however, it has some limitations. Using the MMSE at the asymptomatic stage of dementia or repeated use of the questionnaire may lead to a “practice effect” that degrades its effectiveness. Supported by HK$ 3.2 million from the Innovation and Technology Fund, Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) of the HK Government, the research team has developed an AI assessment system that uses health data of older adults, which are routinely and vastly obtained from elderly care facilities or community centers to detect dementia risk. From 2008 to 2018, the team collected basic profile and health data (including age, gender, blood pressure, teeth condition and nutritional assessment) from over 2,000 older adults, who were aged 77 on average for the AI assessment. The average precision of AI screening of dementia reached 88%. This reliable tool makes early detection of cognitive impairment and prediction of high-risk dementia cases at the asymptomatic stage possible. It also facilitates follow-up or a detailed diagnosis by healthcare professionals. Dr Rick Kwan, said, ‘We used the existing data for predicting the risk of dementia, which was probably a new approach. After seeking their clients’ consent, staff of the participating community centres for older adults can upload the health data of their clients (the research participants) to the system to get the assessment results.’ According to Prof. Choi, the research team is planning to apply the Public Sector Trial Scheme under the ITC and use the funding for developing the AI system for implementing in local elderly service centres as well as conducting more trials to further test its effectiveness. *Team members: Dr Rick Kwan, PolyU’s School of Nursing; Dr Xiao Shen, Associate Professor of the School of Computer Science and Technology at Hainan University, Mainland China (She obtained a PhD degree at PolyU’s Department of Computing in 2019); Dr Guanjin Wang, Lecturer in information technology, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia (She obtained a joint PhD degree from PolyU and University of Technology Sydney in 2018. Dr Thomas Choi was her chief supervisor during her PhD study).

3 May, 2021


VR games to enhance students’ understanding and empathy towards the needs of older people with cognitive problems

The School’s Gerontological Nursing Laboratory offers a new way for students of health care disciplines to experience physical and cognitive challenges associated with ageing. Two virtual reality (VR) games were developed by Dr Justina Liu, Associate Professor (& Principal Investigator of the project) and her team** to deliver experiences of ‘losing spatial reference and wandering in streets and visual hallucinations, which are disorders experienced by older adults with cognitive problems. Funded by the Larger-scale Collaborative Project, Learning and Teaching Committee, PolyU and the School (Matching Fund), this VR games allow students to visualise abstract concepts, such as Delirium, a common syndrome affecting many elderly patients in geriatric wards and the community. When students put on the wireless VR headset, they are taken on a journey to a hospital ward to experience cognition changes that lead to hallucinations, which involve distorted visual images and perception. The game gives vivid but creepy images that allow students to immerse in an experience of sensory misperception to understand what it is like to have a delirium. Another game ‘Get lost’ sets in a local community in Hong Kong. Users are required to find the way to a supermarket. While ‘walking’ around the streets, users find themselves unable to identify directions and may get lost in a familiar surroundings. ‘These VR games play a unique role in addressing challenges associated with ageing and they are useful tools for experiential learning. Through the “hands-on” experiences, we expect that students will increase their understanding and develop empathy towards older people, which is essential for quality elderly care,’ said Dr Justina Liu. Students are also expected to apply their knowledge gained through the VR training to propose solutions or care plans targeted older people with cognitive impairment and disabilities. **Dr Rick Kwan, Dr Patrick Kor, Dr Daphne Cheung, Dr Mimi Tse, Dr Xue Bai (Associate Professor, PolyU’s Department of Applied Social Sciences), Prof. Kenneth Fong (Professor, PolyU’s Department of Rehabilitation Sciences), and Dr Tulio Pereira dos Santos Maximo (Assistant Professor, PolyU’s School of Design).

2 May, 2021

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