EverWrist: A Novel Electronic Fall Monitor for Seniors

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R43AG034734-01
Agency Tracking Number: AG034734
Amount: $174,936.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2009-2
Small Business Information
BARRON ASSOCIATES, INC.
BARRON ASSOCIATES, INC., 1410 Sachem Place, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, 22901
DUNS: 120839477
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 B PARKER
 (434) 973-1215
 BARRON@BARRON-ASSOCIATES.COM
Business Contact
 CONNIE HOOVER
Phone: (434) 973-1215
Email: barron@bainet.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The majority of elders prefer to lead an independent lifestyle, with a minimum of caregiver intervention. Many seniors, however, are frail and suffer from imbalance as a result of their health status; they are at risk for falls and would benefit from having some type of safety net in place. Studies have shown that half of elderly fallers have problems getting up without assistance after they have fallen; all are at risk of being left unconscious following a fall event, whether they live alone in the community or in an elder-care setting. To address this problem, Barron Associates proposes to develop the EverWrist fall monitor. The EverWrist fall monitor employs a novel paradigm to detect falls, and will automatically summon assistance by sending a radio signal to a telephone console unit that delivers a pre-recorded message to a prioritized list of caregivers, ensuring that it is received by a human being. A large recessed button on the EverWrist monitor will also enable wearers to initiate personal emergency alert calls and to cancel an alert call in progress if assistance is not needed. Additionally, the EverWrist monitor will be able to detect and register near-fall events, which are of particular interest to health care personnel to identify individuals in need of further intervention to avoid future falls. Despite the existence of product web sites that suggest otherwise (but which are out of date), there are presently no commercial fall detectors on the market; no currently advertised devices can actually be purchased. Previously available commercial fall detectors were all waist-mounted; as such, they were not true 24/7 monitors, since they could not be worn comfortably during sleep and had to be removed to bathe or change clothes. Additionally, the fall detection algorithms used in nearly all previously-available devices were too simplistic, leading to a high rate of false alarms. Furthermore, the relatively large size of these fall monitors caused them to be conspicuous, broadcasting the wearer's fragility. There is no alternative product or technology available commercially that can detect falls 24/7 and summon assistance in free-living elderly individuals. To overcome the problems of the earlier devices, a new patent-pending sensing technique will be used in the EverWrist monitor that will greatly improve accuracy and reliability in detecting both hard and soft falls. The new approach will be productized in the form of a commonly worn accessory, making it very discreet to wear. Based on this innovative device design, a novel algorithmic methodology, motivated and supported by recent research, will be incorporated into the monitor to detect near-fall events and discriminate these from actual falls and other activities of daily living. The new approaches challenge existing paradigms for fall and near-fall event detection. The resulting EverWrist system will be well positioned in terms of market demand (i.e., need for an ergonomic monitor that can be worn 24/7). The system will be brought to market with multiple pricing options, ranging from outright purchase (for long-term use) to short-term leasing (e.g., for use by an elderly person during the first few months of recuperation after a hospital stay). PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Falls and fall-related injuries in seniors are presently more common than strokes and can have equally serious consequences. Thirty percent of adults 70 years and older fall each year; 10% suffer a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury. The EverWrist system will be marketed to three groups: (1) elderly individuals, the vast majority of whom wish to continue living independently, but who need to have a safety net in place; (2) the adult children of elderly individuals, from whom there is a growing demand for monitoring systems that can increase their peace of mind; and (3) continuing-care retirement communities, where independent-living residents, in particular, are left relatively unsupervised, but often still have issues with mobility and balance. The availability of a noninvasive, 24/7 fall/personal alert monitor without a required monthly fee will make the EverWrist system attractive and affordable to a wide segment of elderly individuals and their families.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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