Meeting Elderly Needs by Design

 

Abstract

In the United States among older adults (ages 65+), ⅓ fall every year and of those, 30% sustain a severe injury (fractures, head trauma, etc.). These statistics are also true among the respective hospitalized /assisted living population, and current infrastructure only passively addresses the issue. Relevant current solutions include remote presence devices, bedside alert systems, and assistive devices such as walkers and canes. These products are heavily dependent on the presence of medical personnel, and while they do a good job of mobilizing hospital infrastructure in response to a fall incident, they do not mitigate the damage already done.

Our goal is to provide a solution which not only minimizes the damage of falls, but is comfortable, easy for caregivers to use, and can be fluidly incorporated into current hospital / assisted living infrastructures. Our solution does not target typically independent older adults, but rather among high falling risk, hospitalized individuals.

Our current design, driven by our requirements and user feedback, is an over-shoulder wearable device with two spring-loaded legs offset on either side of the user that always remain perpendicular to the ground in order to break a fall. Energy from direct impact is absorbed by springs in the legs, as a large elastic girdle, meant to further distribute any energy from an impact across the entire upper thorax to minimize the possibility of injury.


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Mission Statement

Develop a method to minimize the risk of injury during fall incidents among high fall-risk older adults (65+) in hospitalized and assisted living environments in the United States.
 

Vision Statement

Our team aims to deliver older adult patient care environments a way to mitigate damage from the initial impact of fall incidents to improve patient safety and comfort as well as minimize the liability on caretakers and surrounding infrastructure.


Current Work & Team History

MEND (Meeting Elderly Needs by Design) is the newest M-HEAL project team, started up during the Fall 2017 semester. Our team has spent the last semester heavily emphasizing needs assessment through communication with our local clinical advisors in order to drive design ideation. Our team is currently in the process of communicating with patient care environments (older adult patients and their caregivers) in order to finalize user requirements and design specifications as we begin initial low fidelity prototyping of our current designs.

Acknowledgement

Advisors:

Dr. Neil Alexander, Gerontology ; Director, Ann Arbor VA GRECC | Clinical Advisor

Dr. James Richardson, Physical Medicine ; Medical Director: EMG Lab | Clinical Advisor

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PROJECT LEADS

ABHAY VORA | ABHAYMV@UMICH.EDU

AUSTIN WANG | auwang@umich.edu

DIPIKA Krishnaswami | krisdipi@umich.edu

JAHNAVI Muralidharan | jahnavi@umich.edu