Each year, millions of people—especially those 65 and older—fall. Such falls can be serious, leading to broken bones, head injuries, hospitalizations or even death. Now, researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing and the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri found that sensors that measure in-home gait speed and stride length can predict likely falls. This technology can assist health providers to detect changes and intervene before a fall occurs within a three-week period.
“We have developed a non-wearable sensor system that can measure walking patterns in the home, including gait speed and stride length,” said Marjorie Skubic, director of the MU Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Assessment of these functions through the use of sensor technology is improving coordinated health care for older adults”
To predict falls, researchers used data collected from sensor systems at TigerPlace, an innovative aging-in-place retirement residence, located in Columbia, Mo. The system generated images and an alert email for nurses indicating when irregular motion was detected. This information could be used to assist nurses in assessing functional decline, providing treatment and preventing falls.
“Aging should not mean that an adult suddenly loses his or her independence,” said Marilyn Rantz, Curators’ Professor Emerita of Nursing. “However, for many older adults the risk of falling impacts how long seniors can remain independent. Being able to predict that a person is at risk of falling will allow caretakers to intervene with the necessary care to help seniors remain independent as long as possible.”
Results from an analysis of the sensor system data found that a gait speed decline of 5 centimeters per second was associated with an 86.3 percent probability of falling within the following three weeks. Researchers also found that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6 percent probability of falling within the next three weeks.
Additional research led by Rantz and Skubic recently received an award from Mather LifeWays ® Institute on Aging. Their research has found that by integrating care coordination and sensor technology at TigerPlace, residents are able to live independently on average of four years compared to the national average of 22 months.
Developing and evaluating motion-capture technology to help older adults “age in place” has been the focus of researchers at the University of Missouri for more than a decade. Previous research has utilized video game technology and various web-cameras to detect health changes in Tiger Place residents. Now, two new studies demonstrate how monitoring walking speed using radar and heart health by utilizing bed sensors help maintain older adults’ health and warn of impeding issues.
“In-home sensors have the ability to capture early signs of health changes before older adults recognize problems themselves,” said Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering and director of MU’s Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology. “The radar enhances our ability to monitor walking speed and determine if a senior has a fall risk; the bed sensors provide data on heart rate, respiration rate, and overall cardiac activity when a senior is sleeping. Both sensors are non-invasive and don’t require seniors to wear monitoring devices.”
The radar sensors were used to monitor the walking speed of residents in 10 Tiger Place apartments for two years. The radar devices were concealed in a wooden box and placed in the living room of each senior resident. Residents also were provided monthly assessments by professionals to establish whether they were at risk for potential falls. The data collected were then compared to the data captured by the radar.
“Before using radar, we were able to estimate an individual’s walking speed and have an idea of their health status,” said Dominic Ho, co-author and professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering. “Now, we have data that definitely shows how declines in walking speed can determine the risk for falls.”
The University of Missouri (Mizzou, MU, University of Missouri–Columbia or simply Missouri) is a public research university located in the state of Missouri.
In 1839 the university was founded in Columbia, Missouri, as the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River. The largest university in Missouri, MU enrolls 34,616 students in 20 academic colleges in the 2013–14 year. The university is the flagship of the University of Missouri System which maintains campuses in Rolla, Kansas City and St. Louis. MU is one of the nation’s top-tier R1 institutions, and one of 34 public universities to be members of the Association of American Universities and the only one in Missouri. There are more than 270,000 MU alumni living worldwide, with almost one half continuing to reside in Missouri. The University of Missouri was ranked 97th in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report among the national universities, steady from the previous year.
The campus of the University of Missouri is 1,262 acres (511 ha) just south of Downtown Columbia and is maintained as a botanical garden. The historical campus is centered on Francis Quadrangle, a historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1908, the world’s first school of journalism was founded by Walter Williams as the Missouri School of Journalism.
The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center is the world’s most powerful university research reactor. It is one of only six public universities in the United States with a school of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture, and law all on one campus. The university also owns the University of Missouri Health Care system, which operates four hospitals in Mid-Missouri.
The Latest Updated Research News:
University of Missouri research articles from Innovation Toronto
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- Scientists ‘Bend’ Acoustic and Elastic Waves With New Metamaterials that Could Have Commercial Applications – January 25, 2015
- Jae W. Kwon Kwon created a long-lasting and more efficient nuclear battery that could be used for many applications – September 17, 2014
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- Helping Many People Boosts Social Standing More Than Helping Many Times
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- Drones Go To Journalism School
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- A Quantum Leap in Gene Therapy of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
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Bioengineers determine textile manufacturing processes ideal for engineering tissues needed for organ and tissue repair
Tissue engineering is a process that uses novel biomaterials seeded with stem cells to grow and replace missing tissues.
When certain types of materials are used, the “scaffolds” that are created to hold stem cells eventually degrade, leaving natural tissue in its place. The challenge is creating enough of the material on a scale that clinicians need to treat patients.
Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the MU College of Engineering, and her team recently tested new methods to make the process of tissue engineering more cost effective and producible in larger quantities. Tissues could help patients suffering from wounds caused by diabetes and circulation disorders, patients in need of cartilage or bone repair and to women who have had mastectomies by replacing their breast tissue.