Falls are a major problem for older people and those looking after them. Fall risk analysis products are available, but nevertheless the number of falls in older people remains stubbornly high.
Irish start-up Kinesis Health Technologies believes it has come up with the solution – a new proprietary technology that greatly improves the accuracy of falls risk assessments. Those identified as being at greatest risk can then be offered therapeutic interventions (such as physiotherapy to improve core strength) that could prevent a fall in the first place.
"An estimated 30 per cent of adults worldwide aged over 65 fall each year," says Kinesis co-founder Barry Greene.
“The direct and indirect costs of falls are enormous. In the US alone, the cost of falls has been estimated at around $30 billion (€22 billion) per annum.”
The Kinesis technology has been developed on the back of an intensive, six-year joint study into falls conducted by the Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) Centre at UCD, Trinity College Dublin, Intel and GE Healthcare. St James's Hospital in Dublin facilitated the research.
“Ours is an objective method for assessing falls risk through quantitative analysis of balance, gait and turning using body-worn inertial sensors,” says Greene, who is the lead innovator on eight of the product’s technology patents.
“Our system is better than existing products because it offers mobility assessment and falls risk assessment. Competitors only offer gait and/or mobility assessment. The human cost of falls is also high. Apart from the trauma of the fall itself, older people who fall can become nervous of falling again and are afraid to go out. Their world shrinks and their risk of social isolation rises.”
Kinesis is a spin-out from TRIL and recently won the inaugural UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Award.
Quantitative Timed Up and Go
The company has licensed the technology from Intel-GE Care Innovations (a subsidiary of Intel and GE) and is currently being funded through a commercialisation grant from Enterprise Ireland.
The company's product is called Quantitative Timed Up and Go and likely users will be community-based GPs and physiotherapists, residential care teams and falls specialists. The product is being made in Ireland.
There are currently six people involved in the start-up including Greene's co-founders, Seamus Small and US-based Bill Bollengier, who is responsible for marketing and business development in the US. The product will be launched in the UK, Europe and the US in mid-2014. Kinesis expects to be employing 15 people by the end of 2016.
"Care Innovations is our partner in North America and we will benefit from its large market presence and sales force," Greene says. "Our technology has huge market potential and we have early-mover advantage in our industry."
– OLIVE KEOGH