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'Magic Carpet' Could Help Prevent Falls Among the Elderly 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-sound-take-you-away dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Falls are a major cause of injury and death among over-70s, and account for more than 50% of hospital admissions for accidental injury. Thus, being able to identify changes in people's walking patterns and gait in the natural environment, such as in a corridor in a nursing home, could help identity mobility problems early on. Now, BBC reports that researchers have shown off a 'magic carpet' that can detect falls and may even predict mobility problems. Beneath the carpet is a mesh of optical fibers that detect and plot movement as pressure bends them, changing the light detected at the carpet's edges. These deflected light patterns help electronics 'learn' walking patterns and detect if they are deteriorating. With over 19,700 deaths in the elderly in the U.S. in 2008 from unintentional fall injuries and 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults treated in emergency departments, spotting subtle changes in a person's walking habits may help identify changes that might go unnoticed by family members or care-givers. '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,' says Patricia Scully from The University of Manchester's Photon Science Institute."
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'Magic Carpet' Could Help Prevent Falls Among the Elderly

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  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:26PM (#41238213)

    In my limited experience watching relatives fall and die soon after (well, not in person, but hearing about it) its not the fall that's the problem, but the heart attack that lead to the pain that led to the fall, or the stroke that led to the fall, or the kidney/liver failure that led to mass confusion that led to the fall... yes these relatives of mine technically did fall and then die, but the "real problem" was what made them fall, not the fall that made them die soon after. So I'm not entirely sure than locking old people in a kids inflatable "bouncy castle" is much help.

    Also it seems a stereotype at the hospital/old folks home/hospice that the last thing people do before being permanently bedridden is fall, then they're like chained down or ordered never to stand again, which coincidentally happens pretty late in their decline, so naturally they continue to decline and die like the next week, because apparently standing is not terribly difficult so its one of the last things to go. Come to think of it, it is pretty easy, since its one of the first things kids learn to do...

    I'm just saying its not going to make anyone live longer or better, just means they'll get confined to bed rest and die soon after anyway. So its kind of a depressing invention. Kind of the opposite of "let me die with my boots on" type of thing.

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