Sensor systems identify senior citizens at risk of falling within 3 weeks

August 26, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Each year, millions of people--especially those 65 and older--fall. Such falls can be serious, leading to broken bones, head injuries, hospitalizations or even death. Now, researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing and the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri found that sensors that measure in-home gait speed and stride length can predict likely falls. This technology can assist health providers to detect changes and intervene before a fall occurs within a three-week period.

"We have developed a non-wearable sensor system that can measure walking patterns in the home, including gait speed and stride length," said Marjorie Skubic, director of the MU Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology and professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Assessment of these functions through the use of sensor technology is improving coordinated health care for older adults"

To predict falls, researchers used data collected from sensor systems at TigerPlace, an innovative aging-in-place retirement residence, located in Columbia, Mo. The system generated images and an alert email for nurses indicating when irregular motion was detected. This information could be used to assist nurses in assessing functional decline, providing treatment and preventing falls.

"Aging should not mean that an adult suddenly loses his or her independence," said Marilyn Rantz, Curators' Professor Emerita of Nursing. "However, for many older adults the risk of falling impacts how long seniors can remain independent. Being able to predict that a person is at risk of falling will allow caretakers to intervene with the necessary care to help seniors remain independent as long as possible."

Results from an analysis of the sensor system data found that a gait speed decline of 5 centimeters per second was associated with an 86.3 percent probability of falling within the following three weeks. Researchers also found that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6 percent probability of falling within the next three weeks.

Additional research led by Rantz and Skubic recently received an award from Mather LifeWays ® Institute on Aging. Their research has found that by integrating care coordination and sensor technology at TigerPlace, residents are able to live independently on average of four years compared to the national average of 22 months.

"Using embedded sensors in independent living to predict gait changes and falls," recently was published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research. Future research on the sensor systems will focus on how nurses can best use the fall prediction statistics to intervene before the fall occurs. Contributing to the study were MU researchers Lorraine Phillips, Chelsea DeRoche, Gregory Alexander, Laurel Despins, Carmen Abbott, Bradford Harris, Colleen Galambos and Richelle Koopman. Research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (RO1NR014255). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.
-end-


University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.