Using human-centric lighting to improve patient wellbeing

Another dementia center has turned to human-centric lighting (HCL) to help treat patients. This time, the St. Augustinus Memory Center in Neuss, Germany, is trialing tunable lighting from Osram to study the effect of different light frequencies and intensity on patients’ wellbeing and on circadian rhythm, which is an important factor in dementia.

Chief physician Ulrich Sprick said AMZ is running three separate trials: one to determine which color temperature is optimal for older people; one to mimic day/night natural lighting patterns and thus support the all-important circadian rhythm; and a third aimed at minimizing falls by experimenting with different levels of lighting intensity that allow patients to see things better.

"With Osram control technology, we're able to check whether we can generate the effects of daylight that we have outside here in the hospital as well,” Dr. Sprick said.

Dementia patients often have difficulty processing light, which in turn disturbs their day–night rhythm and makes it difficult for them to sleep at night. In an experiment to offset this, AMZ will increase light intensity during the day, increasing the chance the patients will process enough light to restore their circadian rhythms to a more typical day–night balance.

The trial also includes tunable ceiling lighting in the dining area, where light can alternate between modes that stimulate — such as blue frequencies — and schemes that relax — such as reds and oranges.

Dr. Sprick said the studies should also lead to tunable lighting treatments for other conditions, such as depression and pain.

AMZ is one of the latest examples of human-centric lighting, which tunes LED lights in a manner that offers optimal frequencies, intensities, and temperatures for the time of day and task at hand.