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How might we enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls? 

May 30, 2017

MOON-LITE: Cast a ray of moonlight to help you on your way at night

Kate Rushton thank you for bringing Josh’s project to my attention for input.
Josh, as an occupational therapist, when addressing falls in the elderly I consider two aspects, that is the home environment for hazards and the individual for limitations that contribute to falls. Recommendations often include a combination of interventions that target improving physical abilities to safely perform daily tasks, modifying the home, and changing activity patterns and behaviors. So we would evaluate intrinsic factors like lower-extremity weakness, impaired balance, cognitive impairment, urinary incontinence, sensory impairment (vision, hearing), fear of falling, side effects of medications and extrinsic factors like throw rugs and loose carpets, lighting glare, pets, clutter, uneven sidewalks, thresholds, unstable or nonexistent handrails.
Your idea is great for instances when environmental modification would contribute to safety and fall prevention. Your idea might also help people with low vision and dementia. People with dementia often do not scan their environment, may have tunnel vision and often have decreased ability to anticipate hazards and consequences. Your electro-luminescent system might be able to provide way finding visual cues and as you’ve demonstrated perhaps some auditory cues.
There could be demand for this sort of product in nursing homes and hospitals where they use bedside commodes for patients to use during the night. Often there are 2 people in a room and they might wish not to disturb a room mate. Your product could illuminate the commodes profile and outline the seat and catchment area below it.
Besides hallways, stairs…I would target thresholds, critical pieces of furniture that some people may use at night for stability when ambulating. In working with the elderly I know many who have come to rely on strategically place pieces of furniture for safety. Also your product may be useful if it was able to illuminate thresholds and changes in floor surfaces during the day as the low vision or mildly cognitively impaired person approached them.
Also, for people afflicted with Parkinson’s perhaps you could create a staircase illusion with your strips to improve mobility as demonstrated in this ted talk.
This is a great idea, I would suggest you target therapy departments in hospitals and Skilled nursing facilities, Home Depot and Lower hardware as well as Aging in place specialists. I look forward to following the development of your product. Please feel free to contact me for collaboration and consultation.

Patrick Manuel
Occupational Therapist
Post Professional Doctoral Student
Creighton University