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a small proportion of them are recorded. This can be for a number of reasons: the person manages to get themselves up, a relative or cleaner helps them up or, in the case of dementia sufferers, they simply don’t recall that they fell.

After hearing from a senior sister that only

20% of falls are recorded, William wondered what he could do to improve this statistic and, as a result,

patient and resident safety. The answer appeared to lie in wearable technology.

“I heard about this

company called BioSensics in Massachusetts who had

olid proof sn’t any.”

difference care homes stain an


developed a pendant with software in it to accurately identify when a fall occurred – and that’s really the key technology involved. Their technology is extraordinarily effective. They’ve been trialling it in several hospitals in the US now and have perfected it.”

William asked the BioSensics team if they could adapt the technology to fit into hip protectors. Fortunately, the team was keen, particularly because the inherent stability of a device on the hip – as opposed to one dangling around the neck – is much greater, so they could actually improve its performance.

At William’s request, the team has also added an accelerometer to measure the speed of the wearer’s fall. Combined with knowledge of the person’s weight, care workers and medical staff can use this to work out how much force someone hit the ground with. After 18 months of development, the chip can now also detect the direction in which someone falls.

William explained why this is crucial: “If the person’s fallen forward, they’ve probably tripped over something. If they’ve fallen backwards, chances are they’ve slipped on something, like a wet surface. It’s not invariable but it gives you an indicator. When you’re trying to figure out why a person fell – if they can’t remember – then at least you’ve got a starting point.”

The first batch of hip protectors with the chip embedded have just been delivered from the US and HIP is due to start testing the devices on volunteers in a number of UK care homes and hospitals. Once they are ready for general sale, the technology will not only benefit older people while they’re in hospital or other care facility. William emphasised that he wanted the product to have a “community component”, so that professionals can keep an eye on people after they’ve returned home.

“A major problem with falls among older people is that only a small proportion of them are recorded.”

“The device connects through Bluetooth to a standard Android mobile, so the data is accumulated within the chip for each fall – and also for all the steps the person takes because you want to know what they were doing before the fall happened. Every 6 hours or so, the data is uploaded to the Android mobile and that can then send a spreadsheet to

a central point in the care home or doctor’s surgery by email.”

William added that all patient data will be anonymised with reference numbers which can only be decoded by a relevant care professional.

HIP is also partnering with emergency call out services, such as My 911, so if a person falls and doesn’t get up within a preset time (generally around 20 seconds), the chip will trigger an SMS to summon help – whether that’s a relative, carer, or ambulance.

All in all, William Beckett has spent five years developing Hip Impact Protection’s game-changing offering. On a basic level, the pads are already protecting hips across the world. Yet, as technology continues to advance at unprecedented speeds, William expects the connected component of HIP’s product to become more powerful and more useful. As the old adage says, prevention is better than the cure. With any luck, the data collected and analysed through HIP’s revolutionary product will enrich understanding of why people fall and offer a real boost to fall prevention efforts across the healthcare sector.

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