New Technology On Falls Offers Opportunities For Researchers And Industry

Feb 14, 2014

Falls can be dangerous for anyone, especially seniors. However, many others face a daily risk of falling and injuring themselves.

Recently New Mexico State University partnered with LifeSupport Medical’s The Electronic Caregiver Company and Google, Inc. to form a “Senior Safety Assessment Lab.”

That mobile risk assessment lab recently made a stop in Las Cruces at Tresco, Inc. to offer help for people with differing abilities to help prevent a future fall.

Lab participants had their weight recorded and were fitted with sensors before walking across a sensor pressure pad, while ten 3-D motion cameras captured the movement of each step. Google glass could also be used to help capture head and eye movements if required.

According to Toby Cohantz, Director of the mobile lab with The Electronic Caregiver company the information gathered from the mobile lab will be sent to New Mexico State University where an animated version of the subject walking will be generated to help complete the assessment.

“They take that information and combine the information from the pressure-mat walkway and they come up with a very comprehensive analysis,” says Cohantz.

Dr. Robert Wood, Head of The Department of Human Performance, Dance, and Recreation at New Mexico State University has done extensive research on senior falls. He says there other possibilities with this research, like working with the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix.

“It’s probably the largest Parkinson’s Center in the world. Last year they had 1,800 referrals. This is a population where falls is a real problem,” says Wood.

Another opportunity with the partnership with LifeSupport Medical is developing a commercial use. Dr. Wood says already having an industry partner will help.

“Having partners that specialize in industry that then allows us to take something from the laboratory and put it into mass production,” says Wood.

Opportunities like these also may bring more opportunities to share data and produce more research to reduce those who may be the greatest risk of having a fall.