A new device developed at the University of New South Wales can predict who is likely to fall, according to early tests. The belt-worn device measures the performance of someone as they carry out everyday tasks and a structured home-based test regime could lead to the identification to people most at risk. New device predicting falls Aged Care INsite. Thanks to Toni Bunting for the heads-up.
Given the significance of falls to people’s confidence and ability to retain their independence, new developments in this arena are always of interest. However, we need to be careful when considering prediction tools because they don’t stratify the population in any useful way unless they can be applied to EVERYONE who is at risk. In practice, this is neither practical nor would it be sensible to tell some older people that they are at high risk of falling when it’s something that they probably know instinctively anyway, though it might have a role as a before and after test to demonstrate the value of some intervention such as strength and balance training, T’ai Chi etc.
I believe that we already recognise that falls are rarely the result of one factor but that intrinsic and extrinsic issues need to be considered in order to produce a reasonable assessment of risk. Ultimately, the risk of dreadful injury may depend on other “accidental” factors on the day including the surface onto which the fall occurs and the momentum that is changed on impact. Do we therefore focus on rapid detection or longer term prevention strategies? Answers on a postcard please