Drones, smartphones and sensors could provide a lifeline to the growing elderly population in the world at risk of falling, helping to reduce global hospital costs.
A new system was designed by a team of Iraqi researchers and the University of South Australia to remotely monitor the elderly, detecting abnormalities in heart rate and temperature that can lead to falls and provide urgent first aid via a drone in case of fall occurs.
Dr. Ali Al-Naji and Professor Javaan Chahl, associate associate professor of UniSA, are working with Dr. Sadik Kamel Gharghan and Saif Saad Fakhrulddin of the Middle Technical University of Baghdad to develop an advanced system for detecting falls and first aid for the elderly.
In a new article published in sensors, the researchers describe how a wearable device can monitor vital signs using a wireless sensor attached to the upper arm and send a message to an emergency call center if physiological abnormalities or a fall are detected.
When a case is critical, first aid supplies can be delivered to the patient via a drone, up to 105 seconds faster than an ambulance.
The system not only correctly measures the heart rate and decreases with an accuracy of 99%, but also identifies the position of the elderly person and provides first aid much faster. "
Javaan Chahl, professor of Sensor Systems, School of Engineering of UniSA
"We have also designed an advanced smartphone-based program that uses an intelligent autopilot, containing a destination waypoint to plan a drone route," says Dr. Gharghan.
The fall detection device consists of a microcontroller, two biosensors, a GPS module to track the position and a GSM module to send a notification to healthcare professionals' smartphones. The second part includes a first aid package, a smartphone and a drone to deliver the package.
It is estimated that about 30% of adults over the age of 65 suffer at least one fall per year, in many cases fracturing a hip or suffering head injuries.
The annual global cost of acute care related to the fall for older people has increased dramatically in recent years with the aging of the world population. In Australia, the annual cost exceeds 600 million dollars, and this figure explodes into billions of dollars each year in the United States and other parts of the world.
The latest figures show that falls account for 40% of deaths due to injury and 1% of total deaths in people over the age of 65.