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Carnegie Mellon Survey: Can Technology Break Our Fall?


Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall-related injury. Of 1900 adults surveyed by Carnegie Mellon researchers, just over 1,000 worry that their elderly parent may experience a fall, and 70% of those worry at least once a week–sometimes once a day–about their loved one falling.

So far, medical alert systems have been able to communicate with emergency responders and loved ones once a fall has happened. Now, Carnegie-Mellon technology developed by Associate Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Pei Zhang and Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Haeyoung Noh may anticipate falls before they happen and even warn the wearers themselves.

Many older adults with limited mobility are confined to wheelchairs when a caregiver can’t be present to assist them. Zhang and Noh’s environment-sensing technology can ultimately help older adults stay active and independent longer by helping them understand and operate within their limitations.

How it works

The sensors are installed in a walker. As people walk around, the sensors record data about the surroundings and detect the stability of an individual’s movement as well as other conditions like dizziness and fatigue.  Once a user’s capabilities are tested and recorded, the device detects threatening changes in gait and other warning signs. It signals the possibility of a fall and also alerts others if it happens.

Researchers are currently testing the sensors at Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh and Lucas Physical Therapy and Fitness in Sunnyvale, California.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University Survey: 81% of Americans Are Seeking Technology Solutions to Combat their Worries about Falls Among Elderly Adults.