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Shoes: Just Do it Again - Update on 04/12 - Update 04/16 - Update 04/18

Shoes to prevent falls and to satisfy older adults needs

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad

Written by

Who is your idea designed for and how does it enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls?

People who are 65 to 75 years old, that are aware and worry of the risk of falling and have taken steps to prevent falls. They face a dilemma where they want to feel safe but at the same time independent. They want their shoes to match with their mindset and how they feel.


Shoes are key for fall prevention and the elderly acknowledge that they want comfortable, safe and fancy shoes according to their needs. 

During the research phase we identified that wearing appropriate shoes can reduce the number of falls by 36%. Footwear can increase the risk of slips, trips and falls by making people more prone to poor balance and bad gait, or by making it difficult to judge surface friction and distance from the floor (British Medical Journal).

Having that, we believe that the design of shoes for the elderly is an step to prevent falls. There are specific features for shoes that have proven to prevent falls:  1)A high back or collar to support the ankle 2) A strong Velcro fastener on the front to ensure the shoe will not slip off 3) A wide opening to make it easier for the elderly to get their foot in and out of the slipper which is important if they have restricted mobility 4) A house-shoe, which can offer the comfort of a slipper, but with the stable support of a shoe

In order for shoes to be safe it is important to have a hard, slip-resistant sole, a heel height lower than one inch. It is also recommended that older people wear well-fitted, slip-resistant slippers or house shoes indoors rather than walking barefoot or in socks or tights.

With these characteristics we can think on different types of shoes: party shoes, formal shoes , casual shoes and athletic shoes. 

Results from our first user feedback:

We asked to women (12) from different ages and these are the main insights we identify:
-Overall they liked the shoe and they said they were willing to use this type of shoes.
- Some of them were not sure if these shoes were formal or athletic.
- They liked the idea of the Velcro for support but did not like how is located in the front part of the shoe.
- For the sole they didn’t have many comments but when we asked about the possibility to include a device to measure their balance they have different reactions. For women younger than 30 years old (4) they were excited with the idea and asked about details and they considered that it would be cool to have that information. Women from 30 to 60 (4) did not react so excited to the idea, but women older than 60 did (4) not understand the purpose of that device. They mentioned that would be uncomfortable, asked who will see the information and why this was important. We tried to explain the idea but in general they considered that was something that they don’t like.
- Women older that 60 mentioned that the idea of elastic laces was really good, while the boot to support the ankle does not seems very comfortable. Some of them mentioned that their ankle was width so it would be hard to wear that type of shoe.
-Also they mentioned that the shoe needs a higher toe box. And some of them like the high top for support and stability.

Update 04/16 - New sketch including user feedback

We did two new sketch based on user testing (image attached):

1) Try to change some of the features user mentioned such as, the rubber ankle (we change it for a zipper), the velcro and the internal heel.

2) In the user testing presented by Tianqi users mentioned they would like sport shoes, so we include the sketch with the features to prevent falls.


Update 04/18 - Prototype SAM

Safety

Aesthetically Pleasing

Mature

We hack an old pair of shoes and the video shows the results. We include the feedback found with the user testing. Look the video here: https://vimeo.com/213776043


What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Sketches and prototypes with different types of shoes (including the characteristics named above). We plan to show those sketches to the elderly to receive their feedback.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

More information about materials for shoes who prevent falls and make the elderly to feel idependent and confortable

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration

Tell us about your work experience:

NYU- Wagner Student.

40 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Laith Al-Sheikh Hassan
Team

One of the Seniors I worked with for this challenge brought up the issue if ill-fitting shoes. Not only are they uncomfortable, but can pose serious dangers. I'm glad to see you tackling this problem and the various areas you are trying to address. I would like to suggest one more addition: Adjustability and reconfiguration. I learned that one particular problem seniors have with their feet, is that various medical conditions and poor circulation can cause their feet to swell considerably over the course of a day, and sometimes in mere hours. A shoe that fit fine at 9 am, may become too tight by noon and then too loose by evening. Is there a way to incorporate a dynamic and easy method of adjusting the shoe as the user's feet shrink and swell throughout the day? I would love to see your ideas on that.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Andrea.
I tried the video link but it didn't work for me. Does the video have a name? Thanks.
Bettina

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

The video does not work for me as well.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Bettina Fliegel  please let me know if works: https://vimeo.com/213776043

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

It works!

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

HI Kate Rushton please let me know if works: https://vimeo.com/213776043

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi Andrea Davila Saad Team Thanks for the update on the prototype! Great to see you hacking a pair of shoes. The video really help understanding the prototype and it's nice to hear that you build in a lot of the users' insights you got during research and during your light prototyping with the sketches. It'd be great to read soon about users' feedback on the new shoes. I also really like the new sketches and design!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

I watched the video Team  It really explained your process.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Team make sure to let us know if you get any feedback from older adults - either showing them the video, the hacked shoe or the sketches. Looking forward to hearing what feedback you collect!

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Anne-Laure Fayard here we have one feedback for the prototype:
We asked one of the people we interviewed on the research phase ("How to prevent falls: A 75 year old woman perspective") and she mentioned that: 1) She liked the idea of a sport shoe, 2) She liked that the shoe has velcro, but she suggested a thinner velcro, 3) She agreed that the sole needs to be anti-slippery but she did not understand which type of material we will use in the real shoe, 4) She found the internal heel was useful and she mentioned that you could stick the heel to another pair of shoes 5) She suggested to change the colors we used in the prototype.
We are asking more users and will post the results.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Team You might want to check Nesibo Iremu sole idea as it could work well with the sole component of your shoe https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/traction-soles

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

We asked to women (12) from different ages and these are the main insights we identify:
- Overall they liked the shoe and they said they were willing to use this type of shoes.
- Some of them were not sure if these shoes were formal or athletic.
- They liked the idea of the Velcro for support but did not like how is located in the front part of the shoe.
- For the sole they didn’t have many comments but when we asked about the possibility to include a device to measure their balance they have different reactions. For women younger than 30 years old (4) they were excited with the idea and asked about details and they considered that it would be cool to have that information. Women from 30 to 60 (4) did not react so excited to the idea, but women older than 60 did (4) not understand the purpose of that device. They mentioned that would be uncomfortable, asked who will see the information and why this was important. We tried to explain the idea but in general they considered that was something that they don’t like.
- Women older that 60 mentioned that the idea of elastic laces was really good, while the boot to support the ankle does not seems very comfortable. Some of them mentioned that their ankle was width so it would be hard to wear that type of shoe.
-Also they mentioned that the shoe needs a higher toe box. And some of them like the high top for support and stability.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Team  Great users' feedback. I'm sure Svetlana Malinsky  Bettina Fliegel l Kate Rushton  would love to read this. May I recommend that you include the feedback in the test of your post. Just update your post and write at the end of the title (Updated on + date) and then at the bottom of the post have something like "Results from our first user feedback" as a title and then write down the feedback you found and tell the community what are your next steps. I know some but keep others posted. :-)Questions on the feedback:- Why did they not like the velcro on the front? did they explain? is it aesthetic? or is it about comfort? or something else? - what were their first reactions? how did you introduce the shoes? I like the idea that you showed it to users from different ages. Did you think of showing it to men too? - I find it interesting that it was the women under 30 who were excited by the possibility to get information about their balance. Why were they excited? I'm wondering if you need to reframe the way you explain that part to people. Maybe having a short scenario on what the shoe does would be useful. It can be a scenario. See for example: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/e-waste/concepting/neighbourhood-e-waste-champion  Or it could even be a short video. Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRkTTth1JM0

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Anne-Laure Fayard we will keep in mind a better way to explain people the advantages and characteristics of our shoes. The video or explaining scenario might help to make our ideas more clear. Also we working with an old pair of shoes to show a more close idea of how this type of shoe would look like.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Thanks! Way to go with hacking an old pair of shoes for prototyping.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Team. I read the post that Tianqi wrote on the research results. Was that a different survey? The results included men and the age group was 65 +.
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/feedback-on-fall-prevention-shoes

Regarding the design of this shoe -
Was there any concern by users that this would be hard to pull on? (I ask as my personal preference is ankle boots with zippers, or regular laces, because I find it easier to get the boots on.)
Do the elastic laces function as laces and tie so that width can be adjusted?

In this post and the other post you mention that older women were not crazy about the velcro. Like Anne-Laure I think it is important to know what their concern was. I wonder if it might be hard to reach, or maybe hard to use if one has issues with manual dexterity?

I wonder if you made copies of your design, and gave users pencils inviting them to mark the design while you speak with them, might facilitate your understanding of what they like and also let them share ideas they might have to best suit their needs? As an example - If they don't like the velcro because of it's position on the shoe they might draw in where they think it works better for them, and this can open a discussion on why?

I think it is interesting that they were not clear whether this is a sports shoe or a formal shoe.
In your other post you identified that a majority of men like sports shoes, and women like simple shoes or sports shoes. I wonder if your ultimate design might be sports shoe, maximizing comfort, which can be created in a variety of colors, fabrics etc. so that one could have options for casual or dressier use?

Excited to learn more as you continue to get user feedback and iterate the idea!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Team,
Inspiring and impactful collaboration. Sharing in case you had not heard about this.
https://qz.com/453101/nikes-new-sneaker-for-people-with-disabilities-is-inspired-by-a-teen-who-just-wanted-to-tie-his-own-shoes/
https://www.fastcodesign.com/3048451/with-flyease-nike-reinvents-the-zipper

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Team I agree with Bettina Fliegel that you might want to clarify the two sources of feedback and your learnings. It's like synthesis at the end of research. I LOVE her suggestions of inviting people to give you feedback and change things on the sketch. Definitely worth doing with at least 2 users. Also check this workshop at the Greenhouse@MakerSpace on wearable technology: tinyurl.com/tech2wear Maybe useful as you work with the shoe prototype (I know they say you can bring your tee-shirt, but why not bring a shoe? :-) ).

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

What a great example of user-generated innovation Bettina Fliegel Definitely inspiring and a great inspiration for Team 

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Andrea Davila Saad check also the video Joao did for his idea https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/paadje-wearable-gait-assitant-for-elderly-people that could be a good model You can use the prototyped shoe in the video.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Hi Bettina Fliegel Tianqi's research is an additional insight to this post. But you are right both are part of two different user testing but contributed to some adjustments of the prototype. Although we had similar findings, we had different type of interviewees.
Regarding your questions:
Actually some of the users mentioned that the design (with an ankle rubber) would be hard to pull so we are working in how to change this (probably with zipper). About the laces, at the beginning we though that the elastic laces wouldn't function as laces to tie, but know we are deciding whether we had the zipper or the laces.
We didn't gave users pencils to work on the prototype, but that is a really good idea, we will work on the next sketch. We are working in an additional design for sports shoes. I will post the sketch tomorrow.

Thanks for all your feedback.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Thanks Anne-Laure Fayard we will follow Bettina Fliegel to idea give 2 user a pencil to adjust our new sketch. We will keep you post with our findings. For the wearable technology we will try to go, however is after our showcase :(

Photo of juan lambertini
Team

Hi, I,ve got a couple of pictures of some things I tried, related to sole and the heels. But I don´t know how to upload o send them.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

We did one interview for the user testing with woman who is 82 years old. These are the main insights:

"I feel like there's a lot going on but I also feel like each thing has a purpose. I believe the slip resistant sole would help quite a bit, but not sure how the elastic shoelaces would help play a role unless it was to hold the shoe tightly on the foot thus preventing slipping within the shoe. I think the rapper ankle could be a pro and a con. The pro could be that it holds the ankle tightly to prevent rolling or a sprained ankle. But it also could be a hindrance to those whose feet swell and could potentially cut off more of their blood flow circulation, which is already an issue for many my age. The Velcro strap is always a plus because we love straps on everything because it will be easy to put on.
I'm also not sure how the reinforced heel will help, unless it has some type of super grip to help when I walk or with my balance. And you would have to elaborate on anatomical shape".

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Andrea!

I am looking forward to seeing what your team comes up with. Could you hack an old pair of shoes for this challenge and experiment with them?

There might be some insight for you from this post - Looking to nature for stronger materials for clothing, walking sticks, etc 
Also, you might be interested in checking out the new OpenIDEO Achievements Program, where we’ll be awarding shareable LinkedIn credentials for different levels of accomplishments in this Challenge! http://po.st/IrBFVw

Photo of Scott Shirbin
Team

Loving the idea Andrea! Would be awesome to see some hacked old shoes like Kate suggests. Tinker Hatfield, shoe designer for Nike, mainly created all their shoes from hacking old athletic shoes!

Would be worth researching some of the materials that Nike and other shoe brands are currently using. Here is a good article about their FlyKnit technology and their self-lacing shoes!

http://www.sporttechie.com/2016/03/29/design/nike-strives-to-become-even-more-innovation-in-2016/

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Hi Kate!

That's a great idea. We will start to experiment with an old pair of shoes trying to modify the main features.

About the biomaterials examples, that was a great inspiration to think about new materials for the shoes, not only according to the characteristics to prevent falls but also to consider other types of fabrics and materials for shoes.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Andrea Davila Saad  Team I love the idea of hacking an old pair of shoes. That echoes our discussion yesterday about the next prototype after the sketching... I also think you could post on this website and ask for feedback: https://www.techenhancedlife.com
Looking forward to see the hacked version. Tuesday? :-)

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Team check this idea posted by Svetlana Malinsky  https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/sock-re-imagined-beyond-comfort
In particular check the article she refers to: http://www.moorebalancebrace.com/docs/FootwearScience_MBB_Study_2013.pdf
I think Svetlana's point about the need for the shoes to be light echo your focus on comfort (and aesthetics).

Photo of Svetlana Malinsky
Team

Hi team,
you're on the right track. I would tweak it a bit. I would not use rubber for the ankle, because it will make the shoe very heavy. Other materials should be investigated. Also, positioning of the velcro strap will not keep the foot from slipping out. The strap should be positioned at the opening of the shoe (check out https://www.drcomfort.com/our-footwear/mens-footwear/work/ranger). The problem with that shoe again is weight.

Let me know how I can help.
Svetlana

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Svetlana Malinsky on behalf of Team thanks so much for the feedback.  Great to know they are on the good track.

Photo of Kira Lucretia Powell
Team

Svetlana Malinsky Great insight! Thanks for offering your feedback! As we're prototyping the shoe, we'll be sure to consider the weight and positioning of each component of the shoe.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Thanks Anne-Laure Fayard  this article give us a reference to include in our shoe prototype: the customized ankle foot orthoses (AFO) with arch support, footplate and adjustable straps. We will check more of this research to apply to our idea.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

@Andrea Davila Saad and team great idea! I like how you are taking into account both the ergonomics (to support balance and prevent fall) and the emotional / social aspect (you still want to have nice shoes). It's great to see how your idea is grounded on research.
Feel free to build upon the research that Andrea Davila Saad and Kira Lucretia Powell did on the topic during research. You should also build upon other research posts on shoes as well as ideas during this phase. This will invite others interested in the topic to come and comment.
On the emotional and social dimensions of shoes, it'd be nice if you highlight this further. Maybe by developing a scenario. What if you could imagine different "types" of shoes that would reflect different situations and emotions (the elegant, the comfy, or the sporty...).
Check also this post that highlight the importance on aesthetics: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/research/mobility-aids-aimed-at-helping-us-age-gracefully
You are proposing to design shoes aimed at helping us age gracefully, comfortably and safely!

Have you also thought of using these shoes to collect some data on the users (their balance, their gait, etc.)?
See for example https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/research/gait-analysis
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/research/path-feel-an-insole-to-improve-balance

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Andrea and team!
Great idea. I really like your approach!
I wonder if you might also investigate by asking seniors what shoes they feel most supported and comfortable in at the moment? Are there shoes they are using, that they might feel supported in but that they do not feel are aesthetically pleasing, or might not like for certain occasions?
Maybe they can photograph what they use and if not tell you the name of the brand and then you can look them up? I am just wondering if starting with a baseline might help?
 
Also visiting a shoe store that sells comfort shoes might give you some ideas of what is available now. One issue that I note is that some of brands that are available are expensive.
Looking at a variety of hiking boots might also give you information about support and non slip soles.

 Anne-Laure Fayard 's question about whether you are considering using the shoes for data collection is an interesting one. I wonder what seniors might be interested in.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Bettina Fliegel Good question regarding information. I am not sure but information about balance and gait. There might be a way to provide a quick visual to the older adults that would be an assessment of their balance and risk of falling - to create awareness. Some of these data could also be shared with their doctor and / or caregiver - although it might be an overwhelming flow of data for the doctors to manage. One option could be that only when a certain pattern is noticed the doctor and caregiver are informed that there is change and an increased risk. What do you think? Also check this idea which is about balance but also suggests collecting information https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/path-feel

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Hi Anne-Laure Fayard 
Thanks for the feedback!! We are working on the social and emotional dimensions of shoes and we are thinking to interview older adults to have more feedback about their needs.
Also Katlyn Green posts give us more ideas of the way to captures data on the users to prevent future falls: Path Feel - an insole to improve balance Path Finder - a device to trigger walking 
Bettina Fliegel  about data collection we were thinking also in a way to collect data from the elderly where they could give us feedback of what they like about their shoes. Research give us the characteristics of "safe" shoes to prevent falls, but the elderly will give us the information of the features that they like about shoes. We are thinking on types of shoes according to people needs in their social and emotional dimensions.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Anne-Laure. Sorry for the late reply. I missed this comment.
I think that determining that someone has a change in gait, or balance, is useful information. Maybe any change is relayed to the user or caretaker and this prompts a medical evaluation for cause? As to whether to send information directly to a physician for interpretation, I don't know the answer. I have seen some medical articles about the use of wearable sensors for gait analysis. I have not seen any on how this integrates with patient care.

Photo of juan lambertini
Team

Hi, I think this project Is just great!! I found this link, It´s about floors that avoid slipping, but It has a couple of facts that you might find interesting.
 http://www.slipalert.com/SlipQuestions/qB-physics.htm

And there are many companies (vibram, bridegstone) studying the polar bear paws because of their grip on ice. The claws are used to climb, and I thought that maybe If the sole has the "claws" at the rear part of the sole, these could help stop the slip action.

Photo of Andrea Davila Saad
Team

Thanks for the additional information @juan lambertini

We are considering all this information related to friction and materials to avoid falls to include in our idea. We did not know about the advances in studying the polar bear paws and claws but it seems pretty clear that this could be apply to stop the slip action.