Balance and Safety

McKnight’s had an article about a new safety device to help prevent falls. Many senior living communities and nursing homes are taking steps to improve fall prevention among residents, including with state-of-the-art monitoring systems or smart lighting that helps residents maintain sleep cycles and avoid getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

Of course, supervision and assistance from compassionate caregivers staffed in sufficient numbers is the key to preventing traumatic injuries from falls.

Now, scientists developed a wearable device for assisting with balance and health monitoring. The device involves shoulder strap “muscles” to improve posture control to help older adults avoid the risk of falling. The “muscles” in the wearable balance device are two hollow tubes that are worn like shoulder straps and extend or contract via air pressure, the researchers explained. The changes create a pulling effect that directs a user sideways and forces them to adjust their balance.

“Improving reactive postural control ability is critical for fall prevention,” the researchers state. “The experimental results showed that balance exercises using wearable balance exercise devices immediately improved [users’ balance].”

The National Council on Aging said more than a quarter of Americans over the age of 65 experience at least one “falling” incident each year. Another study finds that figure jumps to 50% for older adults living with dementia who lack safety awareness.

The number of deaths from falling rose to a 20-year high in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The balance study, led by a team at the Tokyo University of Science, was published recently in IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine.