New tech can detect falls 32 days before they occur

The development will substantially help the elderly.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The elderly are particularly prone to falling.jpg
The elderly are particularly prone to falling.


A new technology by a project called Move More Live More can now detect signs of falls up to 32 days before they actually occur.

This is according to a report by the BBC News published on Saturday.

The project co-developed with Age NI aims to reduce falls in the over 65s.

Vicki Caddy from Age NI said: "At Age NI we really understand what an impact falls can have for older people and for those around them.”

"We also now know, though, that falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. This programme is all about helping older people to stay stronger for longer."

The new development requires the elderly to sport a smart watch which monitors activity levels, sleep, heart rate and Sp02 (oxygen saturation).

The watch links up to a monitoring platform that uses predictive analytics to detect changes which can indicate an increased risk of falling in a period of more than a month.

"In the background there is a software programme which benchmarks someone's normal patterns of activity, their normal amount of movement or heart rate or sleep in a day," Caddy said.

"They establish a level for every individual on the programme.

"If there are any changes in that, the software will pick that up, even before the individual wearer would be aware that there was anything different.

"If those alerts are at a level that gives cause for concern, that data is passed through to a call centre.

"An individual will phone the person who is wearing the device, check everything is OK, see whether they need any assistance, whether they need any health advice and also see whether they are moving as much as they were and why not."

A robust support system

Caddy explained that if a wearer is found to need more support then the system gets the person back into health care.

"There is a real safety net around this," she said.

"It is not just someone wearing a watch and relying on the technology.

"There is very much a human interface behind this as well."

The technology is now being tested on people aged over 65.

"It is brand new and people in Northern Ireland are being invited to be among the first people really to try it out,” Caddy added.

"We have about 600 of these watches available, but we have places for up to 1,300 people."

If proven successful, the development will provide a much-needed service.

Sandra Aitcheson, assistant director of nursing at the Public Health Agency (which is also involved in the project), told BBC News that falls have "a huge impact on older people, starting from fear, anxiety, social isolation, reduced mobility and moving on ultimately to independence and sometimes admission to nursing home.”

"Falls are a major cause of disability and they are the leading cause of death as the result of an injury in people over the age of 75, particularly following a hip fracture," she said.