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Are Wearable Monitoring Devices Effective for Preventing and Detecting Falls for the Elderly?

Falls are routinely the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths globally. Every year, around 684,000 fatal falls occur, with an additional 37.3 million non-fatal falls requiring medical attention. Because of their declining cognitive, physical, and sensory abilities, the elderly aged 60 and up are in the greatest danger of falling.

As a result, there is a critical need to create devices that allow for the assessment of fall risk in specific aged populations to offer evidence-based therapeutic treatments that lead to a safer gait and, as a result, lower fall risk.


How do Wearable Monitoring Devices Work in Reducing Fall Risks?

There are a number of wearable devices that are currently available on the market that can be used for fall detection.

Wearable devices often integrate accelerometers, gyroscopes, and even barometers; the data obtained is then entered into an algorithm that decides whether or not a fall has happened based on the information provided by the wearable device. Some devices include heart rate monitors, activity trackers, and blood pressure monitors. [4]

Ultimately, the goal of these devices is to collect data on a person's vital signs and physical activity levels, which can then be used to determine whether or not they are at risk of falling. By tracking physical activity levels and heart rate, wearable devices can help to identify when someone is at high risk of falling. Also, by monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate, wearable devices can help to identify when someone has fallen and requires medical attention. [5]

But are they reliable?


Are Wearable Monitoring Devices Reliable?

Over the past few years, researchers who study falls have shifted their attention away from only detecting falls and more toward predicting them.

Fall detection systems are designed to warn the subject as well as healthcare personnel whenever a fall occurs. Fall prediction systems, on the other hand, attempt to warn the subject before the fall event takes place.  As a result of this, fall prediction helps prevent falls from actually happening. In addition, fall risk assessment systems, which are designed to forecast future falls, pave the way for accurate fall forecasting. This can definitely benefit the older population.  [1]

The number of connected wearable sensing devices on the market is expected to grow from 325 million in 2016 to 929 million in 2022. This increase in wearable-monitoring devices has led to an increased interest in the effectiveness of wearable devices for fall prevention and falls detection. 

There have been numerous comparative studies and research in understanding the effectiveness of wearable monitoring devices in fall detection and prevention. [2]

A 2021 study published in BMC Public Health with 7 systematic study reviews has found that wearable monitoring devices are reliable for fall detection with an average sensitivity of 93.1%. However, when it came to predicting falls there is limited sensitivity since there is a need for more complex algorithms to detect them.  Despite these limitations, wearable devices have shown great potential in predicting falls and helping people avoid them. In fact, researchers even recommend the widespread use of this device in older populations.


ViSi Mobile Wearable Monitoring Device Fall-Prevention and Detection Features

With the formal launch of ViSi Mobile 1.5G in 2019, we were able to announce the availability of our FDA-cleared Life-Threatening Arrhythmia and Atrial-Fibrillation (LTAA) and Fall Detection capabilities. During this update ViSi Mobile 1.5G was able to detect falls. There’s a lot of potential and work done for the upcoming updates of ViSi Mobile. Stay updated here.

This version adds the capabilities of tracking and alarming patient posture and fall occurrences. These capabilities warn medical staff of undesirable patient positions, patient immobility, and patient falls. Additionally, these capabilities indicate patient movement and posture (stationary, reclined, lying down, or walking). [3]

ViSi Mobile's fall detection algorithm has been clinically validated to have an extremely high sensitivity and specificity for detecting falls. There are many sources you can find reviews on different websites about the effectiveness of wearable devices for preventing falls, including but not limited to: The Cleveland Clinic, Forbes, ABC News, USA Today, Time Magazine, and Prevention Magazine.




Filed Under: Wearable Monitoring Devices