Smartphones, drones, and sensors could lend a helping hand to the world’s increasing elderly population at risk of falls, thereby decreasing global hospital costs.
A group of scientists from Iraq and the University of South Australia has developed a new system to remotely supervise elderly people, identifying abnormalities in their heart rate and temperature, which can result in falls, and offer urgent first aid through a drone in the event of a fall.
UniSA Adjunct Senior Lecturer Dr Ali Al-Naji and Professor Javaan Chahl are collaborating with Dr Sadik Kamel Gharghan and Saif Saad Fakhrulddin from Baghdad’s Middle Technical University to create an advanced fall detection and first aid system for the elderly.
In a new paper published in Sensors, the scientists explain how a wearable device can track vital signs using a wireless sensor fastened to the upper arm and send a message to an emergency call center in the case of physiological abnormalities or a fall.
When a case is critical, first aid supplies can be delivered to the patient and their carer via a drone, up to 105 seconds faster than an ambulance.
Professor Javaan Chahl, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia
Chahl continued, “The system not only correctly measures heart rate and falls with 99% accuracy, but also identifies the elderly person’s location and delivers first aid much faster.”
We have also designed an advanced smartphone-based program that uses an intelligent autopilot, containing a destination waypoint for planning the path of a drone.
Dr Sadik Kamel Gharghan, Middle Technical University
The fall detection device comprises two bio-sensors, a microcontroller, a GPS module to track the location, and a GSM module to send a notification to the smartphones of caregivers. The second section consists of a first aid kit, a smartphone, and a drone to transport the kit.
It is estimated that about 30% of adults above the age of 65 experience at least one fall a year, in most cases sustaining head injuries, or fracturing a hip.
The annual global cost of fall-related acute care for elderly people has increased considerably in recent years as the world’s population grows old. In Australia, the annual cost surpasses $600 million, and this figure ascends to billions of dollars each year in the United States and other parts of the world.
The most recent statistics indicate that falls constitute 40% of injury-related deaths and 1% of total deaths in people aged above 65 years.