Dr. Keren Mazuz, head of Management of Service Organizations M.A. program in HAC, had published a new article in Frontiers in digital health magazine.
This paper presents a research and development project in digital health for studying aging and technology in fall prevention. Falls are an important global health problem in an aging global population. Up to 50% of serious falls may be fatal. Falls result from the cumulative effects of cognitive, musculoskeletal and sensory decline on postural control and substantially affect the activities of daily living, leading to a lower quality of life and physical injury.
A near-fall, misstep and a prior fall are established risk factors for a more serious fall. The fear of falling may reduce physical activity and further predispose to falling. However,
limitations in the reporting and documentation of fall events create “silent events”—events that are neither documented nor acted upon. An “Age-Techcare” Application (App) was
designed using open innovation methods with local older adult populations and health care professionals through a mixed-methodology approach. The App comprised a digital
diary for the self-reporting of fall events such as a near-fall, fear of falling, a fall, or no-fall and an exercise video to strengthen balance as a fall-prevention intervention.
Reports retrieved from the App were analyzed after a 10-week pilot study among older adults accessing the App on their smartphones (n = 28) and through their smartTV (n = 23). All participants used
the App to self-report fall events. Near-falls were the most frequently reported fall event among both smartphone and smartTV groups. The scale of silent falls (including a fear
of falling and near falls) is greater than anticipated (according to prevailing literature) and significant, especially among the older cohort of participants who had previously
experienced falls and are living alone.
The exercise video was regularly accessed within a self-report–fall-prevention feedback loop. Watching a preventive exercise video clip as
a preventive intervention is positively associated with self-reporting of all events. We have shown the utility and effectiveness of an App in the self-management of fall events
to raise self-awareness, document risk and prompt preventive action. As we address the health needs of an aging global population, Apps such as this will need to be further
developed and interface with health and social care services. The facility for older adults to negotiate ideas and practices of risk and safety—the hallmark of the aging-in-place
and healthy aging discourse—is important to them in their acceptance of dynamic and diverse technology.