Vibrating Insoles Reduce Fall Risk among Seniors

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Falling is among the most serious health risks for seniors and older adults. In fact, with one out of every three seniors every year experiencing a fall, one-fourth of those falls will be serious enough to cause an injury. Among those seniors who experience a fall severe enough to cause a hip fracture, only one-fourth will make a complete recovery, two out of five will have to enter nursing home care, and almost one of four fall victims will die within the next year.

While families are often concerned about the safety of aging parents and loved ones, a recent study conducted by Boston-based researchers has found evidence that an extremely simple solution could dramatically improve balance among seniors and reduce the occurrence of injury-producing falls. Today, Home Care Assistance of Columbus is going to share some information about the study and what its findings could mean for seniors.

Research published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reveals that applying vibratory stimulation to the soles of the feet, to an almost imperceptible degree, not only improved the normal gait of elderly people, but also reduced the amount of postural sway that often leads to a fall.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Lewis Lipsitz, explains that as an individual ages, loss of sensation along the soles of the feet is problematic, resulting in a loss of balance in addition to an impaired gait in seniors that often leads to falling. To help combat this problem, a specially designed shoe insert made from urethane foam was embedded with piezoelectric actuators. These actuators give off a vibration, which can be enough to stimulate the soles of the feet and help provide more balance and minimize the risk of falling.

The vibrating insoles used in the recent study, designed by researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, are improvements in devices used in previous studies in that they are now portable and energy efficient, thanks to a tiny circuit and rechargeable battery contained directly within the body of the insert. In addition to reversing sensory impairment, the vibrating inserts help improve the body’s somatosensory system which responds to stimuli in a person’s external environment

The Wyss Institute hopes to turn this technology into a commercial product, helping to reduce the staggering fall statistics of seniors and older adults. Are you interested in learning more about fall prevention for seniors? Reach out to Home Care Assistance of Columbus today. Our hourly and live-in caregivers in Columbus provide a wide range of services from help with cooking and cleaning to medication reminders and transportation, ensuring the safety of seniors and older adults from the comfort of home.

For more information about senior safety or home care, reach out to a friendly Care Manager today at 614-481-8888 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.


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