Researchers in Salford need older people to come forward and try out a new high-tech walking frame.
The four-legged ‘Smart Walker’ has been developed by a Salford University team to cut the number of devastating falls suffered by older people in the city.
The walking frame is fitted with motion sensors linked to pressure triggers that can tell when someone is at risk of falling over.
Falls are one of the leading causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries older people in Salford.
They threaten a person’s independence and generate huge economic and personal costs.
Dr Sibylle Thies, who leads the team from the University’s Schools of Health Sciences and Computing, Science and Engineering, says despite the widespread use of walking aids there is very little published research on how effective they are and what factors might play a role in their use.
She said: “Until now, no studies have looked closely at the stability of people when using walking frames in their own home or in the street.”
Over the next year the team hope to recruit up to 40 frame users to study them using the device at the University or in their own homes.
Dr Thies said: “We understand that coming to the University, an environment they are entirely unfamiliar with, or letting research staff enter their own homes, may be a huge barrier.
“A lot of older people might feel very nervous about getting involved in this, but we will make it as easy as possible for them and can talk to them beforehand about exactly what we’re doing. It isn’t anywhere near as daunting as they might think.”
For more details on the study, contact Dr Sibylle Thies on 0161 295 2679 or firstname.lastname@example.org