Wearable technology is generally thought to be used by millennials, teens, and early adopters, but a new fall detection waistband developed at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain could help prevent fall injuries in older individuals.
FallSkip is an Android device with an accompanying app that can be used to assess the likelihood of a fall for the person wearing it. Today, about 50% of Americans use their smartphone as their primary internet source, and the app’s developers hope the user-friendly interface will encourage seniors to adopt the technology.
While patients are wearing this innovative app-based waistband, doctors will input their patient’s vitals. They will then walk around. Using the internal accelerometer and gyroscope, doctors will be able to assess “balance and gait patterns, coordination, reaction time, and muscle strength,” according to Digital Trends.
“One out of three older adults falls at least once a year, which is one of the major geriatric syndromes and the second [biggest] cause of accidental or unintentional death,” FallSkip innovation manager Xavi Andrade Celdrán told Digital Trends.
The risk of elderly individuals falling cannot be understated. In fact, an older adult visits the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds in America alone. This is no small issue then, and any technology that can predict or prevent falls would help countless seniors.
Though insurance for individuals over 65 is much better today — with 98% of seniors insured, compared to just 50% in 1962 — falls still happen at an alarming rate.
So far, most technology aimed at addressing falls is designed to help seniors after a fall has already occurred. With a rapidly aging world population, researchers are looking for more proactive solutions.
That’s the goal of FallSkip, at least, and it certainly shows promise to be used diagnostically. Their research could also help build on existing knowledge about hip fractures and their causes.
A study lead by a mechanical engineer at the University of Utah suggests analyzing the human skeleton from a mechanical point of view, as reported by Science Daily.
“It really starts with a small microcrack that grows over time under repeated loading,” says study leader Claire Acevedo, discussing the proximate cause of hip fractures in the elderly.
The study posits an alternative theory to conventional wisdom that fractures are caused by the force of the fall itself, but rather by an existing small fracture from years of stress. The fall is the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
Perhaps collaborative efforts will be made in the future to help determine both the risks of falls and what the true cause of fall related injuries might be.