Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Magic carpet' could help prevent falls

04.09.2012
Plastic optical fibres, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real-time, their walking patterns.

Tiny electronics at the edges act as sensors and relay signals to a computer. These signals can then be analysed to show the image of the footprint and identify gradual changes in walking behaviour or a sudden incident such as a fall or trip. They can also show a steady deterioration or change in walking habits, possibly predicting a dramatic episode such as a fall.

As many as 30%-40% of community dwelling older people fall each year. This is the most serious and frequent accident in the home and accounts for 50% of hospital admissions in the over 65 age group.

Presenting their research to the Photon 12 conference today [TUESDAY], the scientists believe the technology could be used to fit smart carpets in care homes or hospital wards, as well as being fitted in people's homes if necessary. Physiotherapists could also use the carpet to map changes and improvements in a person's gait.

The imaging technology is so versatile it could even be developed to detect the presence of chemical spillages or fire as an early-warning system.

The interdisciplinary team, from three academic Schools and the Photon Science Institute at The University of Manchester, used a novel tomographic technique similar to hospital scanners.

It maps 2D images by using light propagating under the surface of the smart carpet.

The researchers, led by Dr Patricia Scully from The University of Manchester's Photon Science Institute, believe the magic carpet could be vital not only for helping people in the immediate aftermath of a fall, but also in identifying subtle changes in people's walking habits which might not be spotted by a family member or carer.

Dr Scully said: "The carpet can gather a wide range of information about a person's condition; from biomechanical to chemical sensing of body fluids, enabling holistic sensing to provide an environment that detects and responds to changes in patient condition.

"The carpet can be retrofitted at low cost, to allow living space to adapt as the occupiers' needs evolve – particularly relevant with an aging population and for those with long term disabilities – and incorporated non-intrusively into any living space or furniture surface such as a mattress or wall that a patient interacts with."

Professor Krikor Ozanyan from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering added: "We pioneered this new kind of tomography here at The University of Manchester in 2005. Now we are delighted to show how achievements in maths, science and engineering can bring together this exciting new application in healthcare."

Dr Christine Brown Wilson from the School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Work said: "This project demonstrates how engineers, scientists and healthcare professionals, can work together to develop new and innovative health care technologies that make a real difference in practice.

Professor Chris Todd said: "Falls are a really important problem for our ageing society. More than a third of older people fall each year, and in nursing and residential homes it is much more common than that.

"Older people will benefit from exercises to improve balance and muscle strength in the legs. So being able to identify changes in people's walking patterns and gait in the natural environment, such as in a corridor in a nursing home, could really help us identity problems earlier on.

"This is really exciting work at the forefront of research using technologies to prevent falls and represents an unique collaboration between scientists from different backgrounds working together to identity a smart solution to an important problem for our country and indeed all over the world."

Daniel Cochlin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>