Could technology help prevent falls?

Have you or a loved one ever had a snubbla? This is the Swedish word for stumble, and researchers are rising to the challenge with a Snubblometer. Meanwhile, Australian nursing homes are trialling artificial intelligence to help staff respond more quickly to falls.


Falling is a major casualty of aging – around one in three people over 65 fall over each year and 10-20% of those end up with hip fractures resulting in hospitalisation and possible premature death. Others who fall over are at higher risk of falling again. This may impact their confidence in being active, in turn increasing vulnerability to falls.


While risk of falling can be mitigated with simple yet powerful lifestyle approaches such as exercise and nutrition, there appears to be a growing focus on technology as a potential panacea.



The Snubblometer


The Snubblometer is a wearable unit that measures movement. It comes with a mobile application that contains an index to measure falls, promote exercise and provide information about fall prevention, and web-based education for health care providers.


Its primary aim is to prevent falls, in part by taking an individualised approach to improving the wearer’s physical activity levels and self-rated health status.


The unit is attached directly to the skin on the outside of the thigh, above the knee, with adhesives to detect leg movements, aiming to distinguish between activities such as sitting or standing, and sends information to the mobile application.


Alerts about incidents such as a fall are sent immediately via Bluetooth or a router, while general movement patterns or near falls are sent weekly. It aims to measure information such as movements and balance and changes in patterns of movement in the hope to predict falls and people at risk.


Taking a different approach, Australian aged care facilities are installing sensors to monitor residents’ movements and interactions – purportedly without infringing their privacy. They say an advantage is not using wearable devices.


Instead of using security cameras, these devices can monitor falls and other behaviours without video streaming. “It’s akin to having a staff member monitoring each room 24/7 in some respects, without the requirement for additional manpower,” managing director of Infinite Care, Chris Stride, told Australian Ageing Agenda.


They use optical sensors to “see” the room and objects within it without storing any footage. If someone falls, the system sends an alert to the facility manager or nurses’ call station.


The CEO of, Kane Sajdak, says, “Our solution is the best of CCTV, in room sensors and all the technology that you want, without any of their negative features.”


While Infinite Care has already trialled it and is planning to install the devices to all of its 11 aged care facilities in South Australia and Queensland, Rockpool Residential Aged Care is currently trialling it in its Morayfield, Queensland facility, in collaboration with Southern Cross University.








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