Details of a HaBIC joint research project to test non-contact sensors for falls detection were unveiled at the 7th Australian & New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference in late 2016.
The Conference attracted researchers and practitioners specialising in falls prevention for older people. Many of the conference papers discussed person-based interventions, for example risk assessment, balance improvement and exercise. Technological options – such as sensors and ‘virtual’ monitoring – have previously been tested in laboratory environments with healthy volunteers. Our pilot study contributes data from a trial with elderly participants at higher falls risk who live in a care setting.
Industry partner Semantrix has worked with investigators based at HaBIC, Austin Health and the Australian Centre for Health Innovation (Alfred Health) to conduct the pilot study at an aged care home in Melbourne. The prototype Semantrix 3D privacy-preserving sensors were fitted in residents’ bedrooms and bathrooms, to monitor residents’ movement and detect abnormal patterns, or fall-like events. The study aimed to test the feasibility and acceptability of an ambient non-wearable technology with older participants in their residences.
In this “real-life” setting, the pilot revealed some important feasibility, environmental, and technical factors, which influenced network integration and the positioning and utility of the sensors in the residents’ rooms.
The research team comprises Dr Cathy Said (Austin Hospital and University of Melbourne), Mr Michael McGrath (Semantrix), Dr Ann Borda, Dr Kathleen Gray and Cecily Gilbert (HaBIC), and Mr Frank Smolenaers (Australian Centre for Health Innovation, Alfred Health and University of Melbourne). Funding for the project was provided by the Melbourne Networked Society Institute.