Monday, August 29, 2016

Reducing Falls in Seniors Using Technology

I've written many articles and blog posts about home safety for seniors - how to reduce the risk of falls by changing the environment and by managing health and medical issues. Falls at any age can be serious, but as we age, one fall can start a domino effect, leading to severe disability or even death.

Over the years, researchers have been trying to find ways to predict who is at highest risk of falling and how we can best prevent these accidents from happening. There have been studies that use scores, assessing mental and physical ability, for example, but nothing seems to be too effective yet. Now, with technology advancing as it is, perhaps there is a solution.

According to this press release, researchers have developed sensors that monitor a person's gait and stride, and could predict if the person is at risk for falling within the next few weeks. The sensors kept track of regular motion and walking, and picked up on any changes that could indicate weakness or an irregularity.

"Results from an analysis of the sensor system data found that a gait speed decline of 5 centimeters per second was associated with an 86.3 percent probability of falling within the following three weeks. Researchers also found that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6 percent probability of falling within the next three weeks."

If something like this is successful in predicting falls, this could not only help reduce falls, but reduce the worry of family members who are concerned about their older relatives living alone. Good news all around. Kudos to the researchers who are working to keep our seniors safe. After all, it could help us one day too.