Falls among the elderly are a considerable health concern and the leading cause of injury death. Fear of falling can be equally devastating leading to a loss of confidence, restriction of physical activities, and social isolation. Lateral sway while walking, in addition to other gait parameters, have been shown to be associated with a history of falls among the elderly. We propose the development of a wearable sensor system capable of identifying sway and gait parameters associated with fall likelihood and of providing corrective feedback. The system will characterize several parameter of sway and gait during standing on one leg and walking. The biofeedback system, consisting of auditory and vibratory feedback modules, will provide feedback to reduce the 'unsafe'sway. During the proposed study, the robustness and sensitivity of measurements will be established, and the effectiveness of the biofeedback system will be evaluated. The system will be capable of continuous monitoring and will be discrete so that it can be worn continuously, and hence increase confidence and the quality of life among elderly susceptible to falls. Lastly, in future, the system can be used in the clinics as a tool for evaluating the risks of falls, and training users to better maintain their balance.

Public Health Relevance

Evaluating fall risks can prevent falls and improve the quality of health-care. A wearable biofeedback system that can monitor the risks of falls, and train users to improve their balance and stability will enhance significantly the quality of life in the elderly and will prevent many injuries caused by falls. It can further be used as a clinical tool for objective assessment and evaluation of gait, and risks of falls.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Aging Systems and Geriatrics Study Section (ASG)
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Joseph, Lyndon
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University of Texas-Dallas
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
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