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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Ear alarm that prevents falls

26th October 2009

A lightweight new sensor which can be worn behind the ear and measures a person's stability has been developed by scientists in the UK. 

Old Woman 400

The device, designed by researchers at Imperial College London, could prevent elderly people from falling. It weighs only 5g and can also be used as an alarm.

Falls are the number one cause of death for people aged over 75 in the UK, ahead of heart disease and cancer. Over 700,000 people annually have to visit A&E departments because of a fall.

The Ear Worn Activity Recognition Sensor, also called the e-AR, measures the amount a person leans as they perform everyday tasks.

The data it collects can then be used by doctors to determine when a patient could have the highest risk of falling.

The device is being tested at a falls clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London. Dr Frank Miskelly, a consultant in elderly medicine who runs the Charing Cross clinic, said over half of the people who came to A&E were there because they had fallen.

"They are the commonest cause of people presenting at hospital and probably the commonest cause of why people are admitted to hospital and this is particularly among the elderly group."

"Falls are a really big problem and cause a lot of people to lose confidence and a lot of people to become institutionalised. Because of a fall they might have to go and live in a home and often there is the fear of another fall," he added.


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