Fall Detection Wearables Are Not a Solution
A popular fall detection device is a wearable fall sensor (e.g. a pendant). It measures body movements and position and attempts to differentiate between everyday movements and a fall. There are several significant problems with wearables...
- Seniors forget or refuse to wear the sensor. As noted by Alex Mihailidis, the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute, within his keynote speech at the 2018 International Gerontechnology Conference - most seniors not only forget to put on their wearable (or as illustrated by the photo) they don’t want to, for fear of being labelled.
- Wearables have relatively poor performance in sensor accuracy. As summed up by Top Ten Reviews in a 2017 review… On average, devices detected about 75 percent of falls. While fall detection is a great addition to a medical alert system, you should not heavily rely on it but instead think of it as a backup. No fall detection sensor is or claims to be 100 percent accurate, and it is always best to push your alert button if able.
- Wearables and call for help devices such as Alexa don't help the most at-risk seniors. Seniors at-risk are those who suffer a brain injury (about 10% of fall victims) and seniors with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Although the latter group is only 27% of the senior population, they account for almost 50% of senior falls. When a cognitively impaired senior falls, they are often confused and don't remember how to get help. Another major disadvantage of wearables and call for help devices is that they lack photo or video verificiation, which is required for an alert to receive a high-priority response by emergency personnel.