Med-tech start-up creates wearable device to prevent falls among elderly

29 Aug 2014

Kinesis Health Technologies co-founders Dr Barry Greene and Seamus Small

University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out Kinesis Health Technologies has invented a wearable device that reduces falls by older adults by up to 40pc. The device is available for sale in Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada.

As people age, the level of blood sugar in their bodies declines, increasing the likelihood of falls and other such accidents.

Falls in the elderly are a major problem worldwide, with an estimated 30pc of elderly adults over 65 years of age falling each year.

Incidence rates in hospitals are higher, and in long-term care settings about 30–50pc of people fall each year, with 40pc falling recurrently.

Kinesis’ first product QTUG, a Class 1 medical device, has been scientifically validated and shown to be more accurate in assessing risks of falls.

Kinesis QTUG combines technology, including body-worn sensors, with the industry-standard Timed Up and Go procedure into a solution that will be used by healthcare professionals to assess falls risk and mobility impairment in older adults. 

The patented system uses body-worn tri-axial gyroscopes and accelerometers, streaming data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a touchscreen tablet device. It is intended for use by physicians or community care nurses in a supervised environment, such as a primary care facility.

Deterioration in a patient’s gait and balance would be noted as a change over time in their gait and turning parameters, obtained while completing the standard TUG assessment.

Summary statistics, as well as cohort statistics, compared against a large reference population are displayed. This results in a comprehensive assessment of patients’ mobility, as well as a useful comparison against the normal range for age and gender.

It may also be used to facilitate early and targeted intervention.

In the US alone, the cost of falls has been estimated to be in the region of US$30bn per annum.

Addressing a global need

“Falls are a global problem,” said Kinesis Health Technologies CEO Seamus Small. “We are delighted to have completed the product development of Kinesis QTUG and bring our product to market.

“The feedback we have received from customer trials has been extremely positive and we are excited about the worldwide potential of this product.”

Kinesis Health Technologies is spin-out company from research performed at the Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) Centre, a large ageing research and health technology centre established in 2007 and based at UCD.

In 2013, Kinesis Health Technologies was the overall winner of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme Award and the company is a client at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

“Kinesis Health Technologies is an excellent example of a UCD spin-out company established to commercialise world-class research which has taken place at the university,” said Brendan Cremen, UCD director of enterprise and commercialisation.

“Kinesis is now set to a make significant impact in addressing a major worldwide problem in the health industry, in the area of mobility and falls risk assessment in the elderly, and it has significant global potential and global customers.” 

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years