New Device for Falls Assessment

Many seniors have probably taken the “Timed Up and Go” (TUG) test, which involves rising from a chair and walking approximately 10 feet (three meters), turning and walking back, and then sitting again in the chair. According to the CDC, an older adult who takes 12 seconds or more to complete the test is at high risk for falls.

The test is so simple to administer that anyone with a stop-watch could assess the results; the downside is the measure is a relatively crude binary: will fall/won’t fall. Irish healthcare start-up Kinesis Health Technologies is now selling a device that will allow medical providers a fuller understanding of what is happening in their patient’s bodies.

Called QTUG for Quantitative Timed Up and Go, it’s a wireless sensing system that gives an objective measurement of a patient’s mobility by comparing it to the norm for persons of the same age and gender. Most importantly, the stored information could be used to compare deterioration in the patient’s own balance and gait over time.

For a patient, the only change from a standard TUG is that before you take the test, small wireless sensors are strapped to your shins. Via Bluetooth, they transmit specific details of your walk, such as shifts in weight and speed, to a tablet computer equipped with read by your medical provider.

The QTUG system. Image courtesy: Kinesis Health Technologies

The QTUG system, courtesy: Kinesis Health Technologies. Click on the image to expand.

For more information on falls and fall prevention, see the CDC’s STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) toolkit, which has downloadable resources for medical providers that can also be of interest to seniors and their families.