An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
At the University of Manchester in Great Britain, a breakthrough has occured that could reduce the number of falls in the elderly. The university has created a carpet that warns a senior of the likelihood of a fall. Plastic optical fibers woven into the carpet are central to its effectiveness, in its ability to sound a warning before falls.
Preventing Falls in the Elderly
Tiny electronics act as sensors and relay signals to a computer, and are placed under the carpet, and can map, in real-time, the walking patterns of residents. These signals can be studied to exhibit footprint images and identify gradual changes in gait behavior or the impact of falls or trips.
Dr Patricia Scully leader of The University of Manchester's Photon Science Institute, told MailOnline: 'The carpet can gather a wide range of information about a person's condition; from biomechanical to chemical sensing of body fluids, enabling holistic sensing to provide an environment that detects and responds to changes in patient condition.
Falls in an Aging Society
Professor Chris Todd, a prominent member of the research team told the media source: 'Falls are a really important problem for our ageing society.' He added: 'More than a third of older people fall each year, and in nursing and residential homes it is much more common than that.'
Professor Told went on to tell MailOnline that being able to identify changes in people's walking patterns and gait in the natural environment, such as in a corridor in a nursing care home, could really help in identifying problems earlier on.
Assisted living and continuing care residences in North America and internationally would benefit greatly from this innovation.