One out of three older adults falls at least once a year, which is one of the major geriatric syndromes and the second world cause of accidental or unintentional death. A fall usually implies a deterioration in the autonomy of elderly people, which reduces their quality of life and that of their social environment. The consequences range from clinical problems such as fractures or sprains to the fear of falling syndrome, which involves an increase in the fragility of the older person and the onset of functional disability.
This problem supposes extremely high costs for the health systems of the different countries and it must be approached from a scientific point of view.
A Spanish technological centre focused in the improvement of products, environment and services that people use, has designed and developed an easy, reliable and robust solution adapted to the healthcare sector, for the problems above described.
It consists of a biomechanical application that allows clinicians to evaluate older adults’ fall risk, attributed to their functional state. It uses an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) integrated in a portable console, which analyses the biomechanical response when performing a modified protocol of the Timed up and Go Test (TGU).
The system assesses the overall risk of falling by combining the result of a biomechanical test of the main risk factors, such as age, gender and patient history of falls. The fall risk result is available immediately after the test, which is accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation of the main biomechanical parameters related to falls; in this way, clinicians are assisted during the diagnosis phase, making the decision process easier.
The assessment lasts approximately two minutes, including the instrumentation of the patient and the performance of the test. The device has been designed to be used by healthcare personnel in the clinical setting, where objectivity and time-saving provide a great added value in clinical protocols. Besides, the application include a set of belts to facilitate the correct positioning of the device (between iliac crests), a pair of headphones to amplify the acoustic signal in case of hearing impairments, and a universal battery charger.
The centre is currently looking for partners to distribute the system around Europe via a commercial agency agreement or a distribution services agreement. The potential partners may be companies that distribute health devices in the EU with contacts in the medical and elderly sectors as well as with universities and research organizations.