AS PART OF a €2.25 million EU project called FATE, NUI Galway is testing a wearable sensor and home wireless network to detect falls in the elderly.
The project is actively recruiting participants aged 64 and over to test the system in their own homes. The fall detector for the elderly system is made up of a highly sensitive, portable fall detector, a wireless home network and a smart phone.
The portable fall detector incorporates accelerometers which are capable of running complex falls detection algorithms. Unique features of this system include a bed sensor for night-time monitoring and the ability to monitor falls even outside the home.
A multidisciplinary team from NUI Galway received funding for the project under the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway and FATE Principal Investigator for NUI Galway said:
One of the key issues with falls in the elderly is the so called ‘long lie’ where fallers remain on the floor for more hour after the fall due to lack of detection.
This system has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of undetected falls and drastically improve outcomes after a fall.
The research team state that falls in the aging population are a very significant problem and can be an economic burden for care providers. Falls causing injury can also cause significant deterioration in the person’s quality of life often resulting in hospitalisation, they added.
“Falls can lead to a restriction in normal activity levels for the older person, due to developing a fear of falling leading to a social isolation and reduced quality of life. This system has the potential to give confidence and security to both the older person and their carers,” said FATE project leader, Dr Leo Quinlan, who said the new project was “very significant”.
Recruitment for the study is on-going. If you would like more information about taking part in the study, please visit the project website here.