Healing Power of Light - Exel: Drexel University's Research Magazine
 
 

_COMMUNITY Media Arts & Design

_Healing Power of Light

Nursing home residents with dementia who experience “sundowners syndrome”—agitated behavior toward the end of the day—may benefit from research in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and College of Engineering.

_Eugenia Victoria Ellis

Ellis is an associate professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. She is dedicated to preserving and cultivating the natural and built environment.

Nursing home residents with dementia who experience “sundowners syndrome”—agitated behavior toward the end of the day—may benefit from research in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and College of Engineering.

Thanks to a series of recent grants, associate professor Eugenia Victoria Ellis, AIA, is leading a project that will evaluate the interior design of the fourth floor dementia unit of St. Francis Country House in Darby, Pa.

Ellis and her team, along with Appalachian Lighting Systems, will develop a proof-of-concept LED luminaire that will simulate the color and intensity of natural daylight throughout the day. The prototype will provide quality illumination for visual tasks, help synchronize biological rhythms for better health, cognitive ability and performance, and correlate lighting levels with seasonal variation. It is slated for installation at the St. Francis Country House later this year.

“If successful, then the daylight-matching LED luminaire could become a state-of-the-art light fixture that improves health outcomes while reducing energy use for a variety of applications including the health care, commercial and manufacturing industries, as well as a lighting solution to support ‘aging in place,’” Ellis says.

The aim of the lighting system is to mimic daylight using artificial light sources while ensuring that lighting levels and color temperature changes throughout the day are synchronized with natural cycles. Ellis says the combination of appropriate wavelength and timing is the most important factor in achieving the desired biological effect.

Ellis and her team hope to collect the data necessary to support FDA approval of the luminaire for future health care applications.