Lifecomm, the joint mobile PERS venture shared by Hughes Telematics, Qualcomm and AMAC (American Medical Alert Company), which is expected to be in market late 2011 [TA 19 May] , has published a whitepaper by their VP of Business Development Richard Lobovsky which unlike most of its type is not wholly hit-’em-over-the-head self-serving. It makes good arguments for the benefits of mobile PERS coupled with GPS for fall detection, being able to track activity and fitting into the lives of older people as they move through their day. If you are in a home care setting or a discharge planner, you could very well build on this for your organization’s rationale, undoubtedly an aim of this paper. But papers like this are so much more effective and credible when written by an outside authority, expert or gerentological researcher in the field. MPERS Technology: Facilitating an Independent Lifestyle.
UPDATE: 22 Aug TANN: Ireland editor Toni Bunting has picked up that the author incorrectly charts the number of people found incapacitated rather than the percentage found incapacitated. (From the percentage of people found alive within given time-frames, taken from the New England Journal of Medicine – see PDF.) Corrected chart here:
She also adds “What I thought was interesting and noteworthy in the NEJM were the reasons for incapacitation [graph below]. More people got into trouble due to an inability to get up or general weakness (30%) than from falling (23%)!”
In my experience, people who need help to get up off the floor often deny that they have had a fall because they don’t want anyone to think that they are unsteady on their feet. Some of them will have slipped down a chair but more will have had a soft landing transferring from a bed, a chair or a commode. Giving them a conventional worn fall detector would be a recipe for apparent device failure because the impact could be insignificant.
It means that confirming the origins of emergencies is by no means an exact science, and even the most sophisticated of automatic fall detectors may be fooled by human behaviour and poor reporting.
Hopefully, an MPERS device (or mcare systems) will in the future give vulnerable people the confidence to leave their homes and to take more exercise. Knowing where they happen to have had a fall is only half the battle, finding an appropriate responder who can help them their feet without the escalation of an ambulance carting them off to the hospital may be more important in terms of maintaining their independence. We need to be more innovative in the way that we address the issue of emergency response.