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Features of Wearable/Assistive Technology

Motion detection wearable technology includes a triaxial accelerometer that captures motion in its three planes so that it can detect not only that the device – and its wearer – have fallen over, but also in what direction the fall occurred. This piece of information is important in enabling researchers, as well as carers, to identify possible causes. For example a forward fall may indicate a trip, and a backward fall a slip. The immediate area in which the fall took place can then be examined for possible trip/slip hazards. After their removal or whatever, this should make the place safer.

The device’s programme also uses the accelerometer to discover the maximum speed of the fall so that, when multiplied by the faller’s already known weight, the force of the fall can be calculated, using Newton’s Second Law. This is also useful for research purposes because very little is known about the force of actual falls, as opposed to the calculated value, usually given by an estimated average fall speed of 3.4 metres per second. So far, without this facility, it has been impossible to verify this value since elderly people cannot be pushed over, for obvious reasons. The force will obviously indicate the likely severity of the fall which is important both for research purposes into the falls conundrum and for indicating what measures, palliative or otherwise, might be enacted to mitigate their consequences. Such measures could include the use of hip protectors or the installation of shock absorbent flooring – particularly appropriate and economic in healthcare institutions. Indeed the wearing of the device when either of these measures have been effected will help to verify whether or not they are having the desired effect. Up to now all such testing has been based on theoretical values.

In addition to these facilities the falls detection device will be linked to a mobile whose GPS system will add the faller’s location to the fall record. Initially this may be of more use/accurate when the faller is outside, not least because the alarm message sent if the faller does not speedily rise to his/her feet must include the faller’s location to aid the emergency services in getting swiftly to the scene. In fact this provision will shortly become law in all European countries. In the not-too-distant future GPS systems, using newly launched satellites – Galileo, for example – will be available, linked to inertial navigation and wi-fi locators, that give accurate location readings indoors as well. Powerful commercial interests, such as supermarkets and department stores, are crying out for this facility to aid their stock control and assist customers in locating products and/or selling them more of such, not to mention advertising special offers as they pass the chocolates section, for example.

Assistive technology devices, such as Fall-Safe Assist, will also include a step counting function that records all steps taken by the wearer in the previous hour and upload that to the mobile app, which will incorporate it into a histogram that can display all steps taken today, yesterday, in the past week(s) and in past month(s). This pattern of activity will help carers and clinicians to keep an eye on the daily mobility of their patients. Indeed if no steps are recorded for a pre-set period, such as 6 or 12 hours, the app can/will generate an alarm call.

A further facility will use the accelerometer to identify the normal/average amount of sway in the wearer’s walk in order to monitor his/her gait. If, for example, it suddenly increases from say, 10% to 40% that could indicate a problem such as over/under medication, or perhaps the onset of some cognitive malfunction. In that event an alarm will also be sent to the appropriate, pre-defined, authorities, and/or carers, neighbours etc.

Taken together these unique features and facilities will enable the frail and elderly to remain at home, yet still be under the supervision of carers and clinicians. Those most vulnerable to fracture of the hips, because of osteoporosis, will be free from such worries, both of fracture and of being immobile on the floor for hours in the cold awaiting the arrival of assistance. Their loved ones will be able to keep a check on their mobility, or lack of it, and take appropriate action in time to prevent hospitalisation or, as the patient may feel is, incarceration in a care home.



What Our Users Are Saying..

Bernadette Taylor
2016-04-26, 10:45
Dear William,

The hip protectors are great and we like the new material in the underpants.

Thanks again, Bernadette
Geoffrey Hampden-Smith
2016-04-26, 10:39
Dear William. Your package arrived very promptly several days ago. Thank you very much. I am wearing the hip protectors while recuperating from a fall - with the prognosis of a month on crutches. They are very, very comfortable and not noticeable under my track suit. Wearing the pants with the protectors gives me the confidence to do more on crutches and I am hoping that this this will accelerate my re-habilitation.

I am 67 years old and still work in a boatyard. I just wish I was aware of … read more