Have you heard of the new “magic carpet” that can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help predict mobility problems? With 50 percent of hospital admissions in the over 65 age group tied to falls, technology is starting to pop up to help elders avoid debilitating tumbles. Recently demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists, the new carpet hosts plastic optical fibers and tiny sensors that can map, in real-time, walking patterns of anyone who steps on it. The signals can then be analyzed to identify gradual changes in walking behavior or a sudden incident such as a fall. The carpets are primarily for senior care homes or hospital wards, but could also be custom made for people’s homes.
Professor Chris Todd from the University of Manchester said: “Falls are a really important problem for our aging society. More than a third of older people fall each year, and in nursing and residential homes it is much more common than that.
“Older people will benefit from exercises to improve balance and muscle strength in the legs. So being able to identify changes in people’s walking patterns and gait in the natural environment, such as in a corridor in a nursing home, could really help us identity problems earlier on.”
While the magic carpet is still being tested, what are some safety tips you have for older adults who are at risk of falling that can be implemented now? Join the discussion on our Facebook page!