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Integrated Femur-Hip Protector in the Elderly Clothes

Designing comfortable and good-looking clothes that also provide protection for the hip-femur area.

Photo of Beatrice Rescazzi

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What challenges or opportunities are you trying to address within the problem? (200 characters or less)

Hip protectors are already existing. But they are medical prosthetics and an addition to people's clothes. This may be uncomfortable and lead to the avoidance of the needed protection.

My idea is to implement clothes for the elderly with hidden protectors that don't mess up with their happiness, daily routine and comfort. Would you like to wear a sad-looking medical pant every day, with lateral visible cushions under your favourite clothes that now don't fit anymore because of the extra-volume? Me neither. We have special clothes for babies, for big sizes, for pregnant women: it's time we design special clothes for the elderly. They have to be as protective and useful as much as comfortable and beautiful. This is a possible mission: starting from the medical devices, an expert tailor is capable of adding shapes that hide and smoothens the parts without affecting the protective effects. In addition to the hip protections, some other attention could be used in other parts of the clothing for the elders to make them easy to wear, like using Velcro instead of buttons. It's time for a special line of clothes that keeps old people safe, comfortable and happy. 

During the hot season wearing and extra-layer of clothes would be very uncomfortable, even more for the elderly people who are more inclined to dehydration. Plus, the extra-layer given by the classical hip-protector makes the people's clothes too tight and uncomfortable, so that they have to be changed anyway. Trousers, skirts and pijamas that include hip protections are just one layer as the usual clothes, can be transformed in something fashionable, comfortable and respectful of the quality of life: aesthetics are often kept separated from prosthetics and it's wrong: uncomfortable, ugly prothetics designs are often the main reason for poor acceptance and poor adherence.

Also, adding an unpleasant step in the daily routine that may be also be forgotten or difficult to be carried out due to reduced ability, doesn't promote the use of the classical hip-protector. The process of getting dressed instead, is a normal routine and can be also pleasant if the clothes are likeable and comfortable. Therefore an elderly person can be safe and protected without any changing in her/his routine, if the clothes themselves are protective. 

The reasons for low compliance by older people are (1) unaccustomed to use, (2) discomfort, (3) wearing only during the daytime, (4) lack of assistance from family caregivers. All this can be solved integrating protections in a special line of clothes for the elderly people.

There is more evidence of a very low adherence to the use of such protections in people with Parkinson, arthritis, dizziness, wheelchair, walking aid and incontinence. 

From: "Facilitators of and Barriers to Hip Protector Acceptance andAdherence in Long-term Care Facilities: A Systematic Review" (J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2015 Mar;16(3):185-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2014.12.004.):

Barriers to the compliance of hip protectors:

Negative perceptions of hip protectors. Lack of acceptability often arose from concerns about hygiene, cost-effectiveness, maintaining the dignity of residents, the development of unwanted side effects (ie, pressure damage, redness of the skin), and most often, the amount of effort required when helping residents to don and doff hip protectors. In 1 study, nightshift respondents were more likely to rate a hip protector policy as time-consuming (50% vs 13.7%; P ¼ .021) and stressful (75% vs24.1%; P ¼ .006) compared with day-time caregivers, even though nearly all (97.3%) considered a hip protector policy in LTC as feasible. Fatalism and depression. In another 4 studies, a fatalistic view of end of life, depression, or other mood symptoms associated negatively with acceptance and/or adherence. Persistent urinary and bowel incontinencewere identified as a potential barrier to acceptance and adherence. A deterioration of health resulting in nonambulatory status was encountered as a reason for noncompliance in 3 studies. Relative complexity: Identified in 10 studies, another common resident-level barrier to adherence related to difficulty donning and doffing hip protectors independently, sometimes leading to the incorrect placement of hip protectors. The most prevalent hip protector-level barrier of both acceptance and adherence was discomfort, named in 16 studies. Distaste: Issues with style or appearance of hip protectors were also identified as potential barriers to acceptance and adherence: 28% terminated their use because of distaste with their appearance. Doherty et al. (2004) reported that female residents, in particular, were offended by the masculine appearance of hip protector pants, which made them look bulky and unattractive. Laundering: issues surrounding the laundering of hip protectors were identified as system-related barriers to adherence in 2 studies. The residents with incontinence were particularly affected, as their garments required frequent laundering. 

Facilitators of the compliance of the hip protectors: 

Clinical risk factors for falls and fragility fractures. Recognition of the need for hip protection. Peer and family advocacy. Color steadfastness: In 1 study, color steadfastness was considered ahip protector-level facilitator of acceptance and adherence. Soft shell hip protectors: type of hip protector (ie, soft pad, hardshell) has also been shown to influence adherence, especially during the night.

All these data show all the unheard necessities of the elderly people that can be solved designing a special line of protective, easy-to-wear clothes, with a good appearance and comfort.

Who is your target end user and why will they be interested? (650 characters or less)

A typical beneficiary of special clothes designed for the elderly is a person who suffers from osteoporosis and needs to avoid fractures. Just like you and me, prefers to avoid wearing bulky prosthetics and would like to dress according to her/his taste without adding steps to her/his daily routine. Also, the necessity of using daily medical prostethics is a constant depressing reminder of disease, doctors and hospitals. Instead, the free choice of clothes on the sole basis of their look and comfort just like everybody does, is a great addition to their quality of life and allows them to enjoy life at full just like they deserve.

How is your idea scaleable? (650 characters or less)

This idea is absolutely scalable. I don't know about the situation in the U.S., but in Italy, hospitals have shops in some dedicated areas, with products special attention to the needs of patients. Also already-existing chains of clothing shops can add a new line designed for the elderly that takes in consideration their safety and comfort together with the look. For instance, the French company Kiabi has shops everywhere in Europe and online: if they launch a line of protective nice-looking clothes for the elderly they just gain customers.

What do/will you measure to know if your solution worked? (500 characters or less)

- based on already effective medical prostethics: protection is guaranteed because the design of the protective clothing would only smoothen them with wise additions: that's what expert tailors already do to hide imperfections while improving style. - reduction of discomfort and of saddening additions to daily routine: dressing up could be already a long process for some, adding a medical ugly pant is nobody's wish. - improvement of freedom, quality of life, safety, perception of self...

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

If you were to become a Top Idea, would you want to actively participate in piloting your idea?

  • I want my idea piloted, and I prefer to do my own piloting in collaboration with the health system and with assistance from the Challenge partner

Tell us about yourself or your team (500 characters or less)

My background is the medical rehabilitation in the field of orthoptics and ophtalmology, but I am interested in many other topics. I also achieved studies in the fields of informatics. I am interested in the new technologies, expecially 3D designing and 3D printing, that I use to build my own ideas.

Location (50 characters)

I live in Ferrara, Northern Italy.

What is your legal / organizational structure?

  • We are individuals

Innovator/Organizational Characteristics

  • Female-led organization

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

Why are you participating in this Challenge?

I have chosen a job in the field of rehabilitation because I love to help others and I want them to enjoy life. Later in life I started to suffer from a rare autoimmune disease, and this just confirms my desire to solve problems involving health. I think medicine is too focused in curing diseases but not in improving people's life: it's not the same thing. We need to achieve both, and make the good quality of life a right for everyone, and not an option that can be left aside.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Manisha Laroia

Hi Beatrice Rescazzi 
Thank you for being super-active through the Ideas Phase of the Healthy Bones Challenge.
Great work!
A reminder to make any last minute tweaks you wish to asap.
The DEADLINE for idea submission is Wednesday July 3rd, 2019 5pm PST.

A CHECKLIST to guide you.
Please make sure your idea does the following:
1) Clearly define the problem
2) Connects to at least one opportunity area
3) States how & when user accesses the solution
4) Tells the story

Let me know if you need anything.
All the best for the next phase of the challenge.

OpenIDEO Challenge Team

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