Can a shoe stop you from falling? Sensors and apps designed for seniors and their caretakers may be able to detect when falls occur, but Dr. Yonatan Manor wanted to take that a step further. He assembled a team of doctors and engineers to prototype a smart shoe that they think might be able to prevent falls when they’re about to occur. The so-called B-Shoe is a walking shoe that incorporates pressure sensors, a microprocessor, an algorithm, a motion device and a rechargeable battery. When the sensor and algorithm detect imbalance, they prompt the motion device to perform a backward step to help the wearer regain balance. It operates only when imbalance is detected and is designed for use by seniors or by people who are injured, physically challenged, sick or in post-surgery recovery.
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. B-Shoe Technologies, based at the hiCenter Business Incubator in Haifa, Israel, is in the prototype and testing phase of development. It’s about a third of the way to its $30,000 goal for its Indiegogo campaign that runs through February 10. “We are currently seeking investment that will allow us to complete the regulation process, miniaturize the entire mechanism and start mass production,” the company writes on its website. “We estimate about two years for this to happen.” B-Shoe (short for: Balancing Shoes) is a conventional walking shoe that automatically performs a “backward step” accurately and only when needed.
Why we fall as we age? In the book, You: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty, by Dr. Oz. We become more vulnerable to falls as we age because we lose balance as we age. How? The semicircular canals in our ears are filled with thick viscous fluid with tiny stones floating about. When you turn, these stones slowly move, and nerves in your ears sense this action. However, if the stones have become osteoporotic or the nerve impulses are erratic, the brain cannot rapidly process these clues to movement, and you feel dizzy. What can we do to keep a good sense of balance as we age? Many individuals experience balance prob¬lems as they get older. Lack of muscle strength,especially in the legs and ankles, contributes to poor balance. One of the main reasons for poor balance is disturbances of the inner ear. This leads to feelings of unsteadiness, floating, spin¬ning and/or other sensations of movement even while being still. There are, however, many different types of balance disorders, some of which have underlying medical conditions. Be safe, exercise, strength train, and when going out in rain or snow, it’s okay to hold on to your friends arm. Loss of footing or traction is a common cause of falls. Loss of footing occurs when there is less than total contact between one’s foot and the ground or floor. Loss of traction occurs when one’s feet slip on wet or slippery ground or floor. Other examples of loss of traction include tripping, especially over uneven surfaces such as sidewalks, curbs, or floor elevations that result from carpeting, risers, or scatter rugs. Loss of footing also happens from using household items intended for other purposes – for example, climbing on kitchen chairs or balancing on boxes or books to increase height. One last question for you. Would you help an elderly person if they fell?