Is Falling a Problem?
According to the CDC, about 700,000 to 1 million people fall in hospitals in the United States each year. Falls in hospitals can be caused by a variety of factors including medication side effects, dementia, weakness, impaired vision, unsteady gait, and environmental hazards such as slippery floors or clutter. Even more people fall at home, about 3 million older adults each year, about one in four. Falls at home can be caused by the same factors that contribute to falls in hospitals, as well as other factors, such as poor lighting, uneven surfaces, and lack of assistive devices.
Falls can lead to serious injuries, such as fractures, head injuries, and internal bleeding. In some cases, falls can even be fatal. Most patients who fall are not seriously injured, but the average cost of one-third of falls resulting in a serious fall-related injury is more than $36,000, and the patient’s length of stay if the fall was in the hospital increases by an average of 6.27 days. In 2015, medical costs for falls in the United States totaled more than $50 billion.
Fortunately, there are a number of technology solutions being developed for fall prevention. For example, fall detection systems can use sensors to track a person’s movements and alert caregivers if they are at risk of falling. Virtual reality (VR) training programs can help people improve their balance and coordination. Wearable devices can track a person’s vital signs and movement patterns to identify early signs of falls.
AI solutions are being developed to prevent falls. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative and effective solutions being developed in the future. Following are some examples of AI falls solutions. VirtuSense is an AI company that develops fall detection systems for hospitals and senior living communities. Their system uses sensors to track a person’s movements and alert caregivers if they are at risk of falling. VirtuSense has been shown to reduce falls by up to 85%. FallProof VR is a VR training program that helps people improve their balance and coordination. The program uses virtual reality to create realistic simulations of fall-risk situations. FallProof VR has been shown to reduce falls by up to 50%. FallRisk is a predictive analytics platform which uses data and AI to identify people who are at high risk of falling. FallRisk uses data from electronic health records, wearable devices, and other sources to create a personalized risk assessment for each individual. FallSense is a wearable device which tracks a person’s vital signs and movement patterns to identify early signs of falls. FallSense can also send alerts to caregivers if a person is at risk of falling. These are just a few examples of the many AI solutions being developed to prevent falls. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative and effective solutions being developed.
Apple Watch Fall Detection is a feature which can help to detect falls and send an alert for help. It is available on Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or later. The feature uses a combination of sensors to detect a fall. These sensors include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a heart rate sensor. If the Apple Watch detects a fall, it will vibrate and sound an alarm. The user will then have 15 seconds to tap the screen to dismiss the alert. If the user does not tap the screen, the Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services. Although not perfect, it can help to detect falls which may not be noticed by others. It can send an alert for help, even if the user is unable to do so themselves. It can help to reduce the risk of serious injuries from falls. During a visit to Montreal a year ago, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk paver. Down I went. The Watch asked if I had fallen and if I was ok. I clicked yes I fell and yes I am ok. More recently, my Watch asked if I had fallen. I said no I did not fall. It was a false positive. Not a perfect solution but as Apple gathers data from millions of incidents, it will become more accurate.
In summary, yes, falling is a problem. Surveys have shown it is top of mind for seniors. Technology is coming to the rescue. AI in particular will get smarter and smarter and provide alerts to emergency services or caregivers.