Falls have been identified as a potentially detrimental event to a vast amount of peoples' health when they occur. My aim is to help reduce the number of falls in the elderly demographic, primarily in the home environment in a comercially available manner.
My idea is research based. While exploring different ideas extensively and continuing to conduct research, the use of existing sensor technology as a means of reducing falls began to emerge as a very likely area I would focus on. It surprised me at this point of the project was that there was “currently no commercially available method for quantitative assessment of falls risk” — this would become a critical guide throughout the remainder of the project. I discovered a sensor (Shimmer sensor) which could record user movement, however it had not yet been incorporated into footwear. This seemed ideal as I learned that if user movement could be recorded accurately, it may help medical professionals to determine factors which are likely to cause falls (medication, walking patterns etc.) and prevent falls before they actually happen — this became the basis of my project.
the main insights from my research were as follows:
- The number one mobility problem that older people experience is falls
- Falls are the dominant cause of injuries in older people
- Slippers were the most common type of improper footwear worn when falls occurred
- Falls mainly happen in elderly peoples' own homes
Based on my research, I attempted to redesign footwear that elderly people could use in their own homes in order to reduce the chance of a fall occurring. My idea addresses the problem in the following ways
- It makes use of the physical characteristics outlined in the medical journal 'Optimizing footwear for older people at risk of falls' (e.g. sole material, angles of grooves etc.)
- Low stigma, comfortable approach. Style is inspired by a traditional slipper but has elastic laces so that the feet are not too loose in the footwear
- It uses existing sensor technology but in a commercially available shoe so that appropriate diagnoses can be made by a qualified professional before the fall actually happens
Please see my full design process here (2nd project in portfolio): Fall Prevention Footwear for Elderly People