FRAIL Pilot Evaluation (Part 3)

Frailty and Falls

This article is part of a series, covering FRAIL pilot evaluation. You can read part 1 here, and part two here.

The FRAIL pilot testing took place in France and Germany, from April until November 2019.

Fall Detection

In our pilot study, we used Huawei smartwatch with the LOLA App by Qolware. Many comparable devices on the market fail to provide a reliable automatic fall detection.  One of the reasons might be the need to take into account the fall context and environment.

Increasing the sensitivity of a fall detection algorithm can allow the system to detect also soft falls. The downside might, however, be an increase in the false alarm rate. But it would is a very expensive trade-off to pay since one of the main reasons why seniors stop using fall detection devices is a high false alarm rate,

It would be, therefore, more desired to optimize the performance of the algorithm’s sensitivity regarding the detection of non-recovery hard falls. And at the same time, leave it up to seniors to call for help using a manual alarm when needed.

As shared in a table below, falls occurred mostly in healthy and prefrail people living in private homes. This leads to a simple conclusion: the more active people are, the less reliable an automatic fall detection device may be. Because there are too many factors involved in users’ mobility when they are fully autonomous: travels by bike, street walks with specific dangers on the road (slope, hole, etc.). To avoid this, users should integrate as many elements as possible from the environmental context of mobility to make the watch smarter in its fall detection abilities.

Since falls are related to mobility, which is a social activity, an algorithm, as smart as it could be, could hardly be sufficient to detect all kinds of falls successfully (soft/hard/inside/outside/by foot/from a bike, etc.).

Summary of falls in FRAIL pilot in France

fall reports France

Overview of falls in FRAIL pilot in Germany

fall reports Germany

This article is part of a series, covering FRAIL pilot evaluation. In the last piece in the series will show a few case studies.

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