Preventable falls are a fatal flaw in our overburdened aged care system, with statistics showing that one in three Australians over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, 400 people die and 27,000 more are hospitalised due to this sinister cause.
There are many reasons that older Australians might fall but poor balance is seen as a significant cause.
Thanks to an Australian invention, the Unimetric Balance Mat, aged care, health and hospital professionals can now have greater confidence in their assessment of who may be at heightened risk of falling.
Just 30 seconds of an older person standing on a new “smart mat” developed by Canberra-based company Balance Mat Pty Ltd is enough to tell the healthcare professional assessing the person’s balance whether they should implement falls mitigation measures or not.
Such measures might consist of extra out-of-bed monitoring, the application of hip and head protectors, changes in medication or the undertaking of balance, strength and fitness exercises.
It all depends on the health of the person involved and the particular environment they’re in, whether it be a hospital, a residential aged care facility or at home.
The problem is that how wobbly a person is on their feet can’t always be gauged by the naked eye.
The Balance Mat gives a dynamic graph and score on a computer during a thirty-second test. If the graph is zig-zagging wildly and the score is above 0.6 it means the person is at a heightened risk of falling.