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Researchers building new sensor that could stop falls by elderly, before they happen
Date:8/18/2011

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, falls among Americans over age 65 are the leading cause of injury-related death. Falls also are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. In 2007, more than 18,000 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries. In 2009, 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among elderly adults were treated in emergency rooms and more than 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

Researches at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia are hoping to stem this tide. With a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Smart Health and Wellbeing Program, they are creating a portable fall prediction monitoring system for early detection of fall risks that can provide early diagnosis and treatment before a fall occurs to reduce long-term health effects and injuries, and ultimately, help stave off death.

Users likely would wear the device as a faux piece of jewelry on a piece of clothing or around an ankle. It will measure potentially small declining increments in gait, posture and mobility of a patient, major indictors that can help point to a future fall, said Thurmon Lockhart (http://www.ise.vt.edu/people/bio.php?content_id=330&type=teaching), an associate professor with the Virginia Tech Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (http://www.ise.vt.edu/main/index.php).

"I believe we could really help some people, that is the reason for this program, helping save lives" said Lockhart, who also is director of the Virginia Tech Locomotion Research Lab, and has worked with dozens of U.S. companies including delivery giant UPS in training workers in fall training safety (http://www.vt.edu/spotlight/impact/2010-
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Contact: Steven Mackay
540-231-4787
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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