Falls are a major cause of death and disability among older people. Millions of seniors place their faith in fall detection devices, hoping the technology will bring help should they suffer a fall. It seems their faith may prove misplaced, according to a study conducted by researchers at Canada’s University of Alberta. There are hundreds of such products on the market. Whether the fall detection device consists of a pendant, wristband or sensor in the home, many of them have not been properly tested for real-world use.
Testing Only in Lab Settings
The researchers found that these devices were tested only in laboratory settings, with students filling in for elderly people. In some cases, actual humans were not used for fall testing – mannequins filled in instead. Not one of the products was tested on the individuals for whom they were designed – older people who live independently or with caregivers.
Prior studies on these devices, with a few exceptions, did not include feedback from caregivers or healthcare providers about the efficacy or acceptability of the various monitoring systems. Previous studies also did not address the cost of the technology, which is always a factor in any consumer item. A few recommended that the devices should be inexpensive, but there were no specifics as to what that constituted.
Difficulty Activating the Device
One of the studies reviewed by the University of Alberta researchers showed that most elderly users did not push the button on their devices after falling, either because they had trouble activating it or because they did not want to bother their caregiver. Obviously, a device that a person cannot easily activate negates the whole purpose of a fall detection notification system. Many people do not want to automatically summon emergency personnel should they fall. They would rather have the device notify a relative or friend.
While fall detection devices are big sellers among the elderly, there is little information about how many of them are actually put to use compared to those seniors try for a while and then relegate to a closet or shelf. Designers and manufacturers of these devices have not addressed the issues of customer needs and wants when it comes to these items. One of the authors of the University of Alberta study notes that many of these devices are not developed by the medical community, but by information technology companies. Although they are marketed as medical-type devices, these products are really consumer items. That means the true reliability of such devices are in question. She says the industry must work more with researchers to go beyond the lab setting and have the industry validate their products for the consumer.
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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a slip and fall or similar accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Philadelphia products liability lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC to discuss your legal options. Your injuries may have been caused by a product’s design, manufacturing, or marketing defect. Call us today at 215-569-8488 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation. We proudly assist clients throughout Philadelphia, Delaware County, and Chester County, Pennsylvania, as well as the areas of Wilmington, Delaware, and New Jersey.