Summary: Health technology start-up Kinesis Health Technologies has secured the inaugural UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Award. The University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company developed a novel software solution to prevent falls in older adults. This software, called QTUG™ (Quantitative Timed Up and Go), utilizes body-worn sensors to assess a person’s risk of falling and frailty.
The UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is designed to support the launch of sustainable and profitable new ventures based on intellectual property emerging from UCD. The programme aims to equip UCD researchers with entrepreneurial skills and commercial know-how to help transform their research into successful start-up companies.
As the award winner, Kinesis Health Technologies has secured €25,000 in prize money, which will be used to support the company’s growth and development. The start-up has attracted attention from global healthcare providers and plans to target the UK, Europe, and the US markets shortly.
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Kinesis Health Technologies Ltd, a new health technology start-up company, has won the inaugural University College Dublin (UCD) VentureLaunch Accelerator Award and the €25,000 prize. They were not the expected winner.
What did this company do to win this new award? Kinesis Health Technologies has developed QTUG (Quantitative Timed Up and Go), a novel, patent-protected fall risk and mobility assessment technology. With the rising number of falls among adults over 50, KHT came up with a solution.
The Answer to Fall Risk Prevention in Older Adults
Using an approach agreed upon by a broad range of healthcare professionals to facilitate objective assessments of fall risk in older adults.
For example, take the story of Mary Staker, 58, who fell one morning, broke her hip, and, since she lived alone, had no way of getting help. Her fall resulted in her lying on her kitchen floor for three days.
Using QTUG, healthcare professionals can potentially improve healthcare utilization, reduce healthcare costs, and improve the quality of life of those at risk.
Kinesis Health Technologies (KHT) plans to launch QTUG into the European (Ireland and the UK) and Northern American (US and Canada) markets in mid-2014 and expects to be employing 15 people by the end of 2016.
The founders of Kinesis Health Technologies Ltd are Seamus Small, Dr. Barry Greene, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, and Bill Bollinger, who is based in the US. Kinesis is a spin-out company that has emerged from internationally peer-reviewed research carried out over the last six years in the TRIL (Technology Research for Independent Living) Centre at UCD.
“Innovation is the third pillar of UCD’s core mission, and two of UCD’s key innovation themes are putting knowledge to work and growing and supporting new business,” said Prof Peter Clinch, UCD vice-president for innovation.
“Through the new UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, held over the last three months at NovaUCD, we are supporting researchers to accelerate this process by establishing new ventures that will translate innovative research ideas into companies providing value-added products, services, and jobs.”
“Kinesis Health Technologies is an excellent example of a UCD spin-out company, which has been established to address a major worldwide problem in the health industry, with significant global potential and global customers. I congratulate the members of the Kinesis team for winning the 2013 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Award and wish them every commercial success for the future.”
Identifying Fall Risk Signs in Your Elderly Parents
How do you know if your aging parent needs more care than they can provide for themselves? Some parents are entirely transparent and would be frank enough to tell you they need particular attention because of their old age or if a health condition is bugging them. However, other parents are quite secretive about their feelings because they know how busy you are with your family.
You don’t have to be a healthcare professional to determine if your parent needs more care. During one of your visits, talk to your parents casually and find out how your mom, your dad, or both of them feel about their home now. Ask simple but probing questions like:
• Are you still comfortable living here?
• Are you doing fine with your usual home chores, or would you want me to arrange for a cleaning lady, maybe an option locally?
• Is your back pain bugging you? Shall we go to your physician for a routine check-up?
• It’s so quiet here, Mom (or Dad); why don’t you come home with me for a change of atmosphere? Your grandchildren would love to see you more when they return from school.
Simple questions can get them talking. From their answers, you can observe how sad your mom, dad, or both are in their home. You can also read between the lines of their response if they are nostalgic about leaving their home, are still enthusiastic about routine chores, and can even manage to do their everyday tasks. This suggests that your parents are again doing fine despite their old age and do not need special care yet.
However, your parent’s answers to your questions can also offer clues to indicate that they are having difficulties driving their car or managing their home chores. Your talk with your parents may also alert you that they are burdened by some pain or discomfort when doing home chores or just walking or sitting and if they desire relief from such conditions.
You may not accomplish much of your goals in screening whether or not your parent(s) needs more care now in just one visit. Situations are often not entirely clear-cut.
It is not as easy as visiting them once and convincing them immediately that they need special care. Chances are, things will unfold for you after several visits. Parents will likely have mixed feelings about being given more responsibility or considering changing their living arrangements. But as a son or daughter, your bond of kinship will help you evaluate the situation.
Exploring Nursing Homes as a Potential Choice
As people live through the different stages of adulthood, each phase is characterized by one or more changes in their functional abilities and desires. In their prime, people enjoy the feeling that they can accomplish any physical task they set their goals on because they want good health and possess the zest and energy to pursue their interests. As your parents grow old and older until they can’t do what they usually do, the path clears towards longer-term and more specialized care for their needs. Nursing home placement or employing a home-based caregiver are practical considerations.
Take time to consider if placement in a nursing home or some other facility or contracting the services of a home-based caregiver is best for their needs on a case-to-case basis. Nursing homes have that stigma that drives old folks into thinking they are not loved anymore. Depending on availability in your locale, some forms of living arrangement are better tolerated by aging parents who tend to be too shocked about the prospects of nursing home life or a personal caregiver. Assisted living or a retirement community may be more appealing to them.
Your parents will live independently in an apartment or suite in an assisted living arrangement. There are usually options for furnished or unfurnished units. Residents of such facilities may also opt to purchase additional services as needed. Such extra services may include housekeeping, meal plans, round-the-clock care, transportation, etc. There is also an arrangement for all these services packaged together.
Comprehensive Checklist to Determine if Your Parents Are Eligible for Assisted Living:
• Active and has a lot of plans you believe they are still capable of successful execution
• Can even manage to drive a car safely
• needs more motivation to do a lot of things
• May need some support for bathing and getting dressed
• Requires motivation and supervision but still capable of minding personal care
• Not bothered by incontinence (leaking urine) issues
• Physically challenged in a minor way but have no problems asking for help and receiving assistance.
• Sound mind
A retirement community may also be a great option. However, it requires that your old folks are still fully motivated, physically independent, not yet physically challenged, have no incontinence issues or can deal with incontinence issues unassisted. A retirement community is best for retirees who can still pursue an active life.
Indicators That Your Parents May Require Assisted Living
• Already experiencing signs of physical deterioration,
• Experiencing incontinence problems that he/she cannot handle without assistance,
• Has a chronic illness that requires long-term but not critical care,
• In need of considerable support for their hygiene,
• Strongly impaired sight and hearing
If your parent needs nursing home care but is reluctant about the set-up, you may need to reconsider your options and hire a trained home-based caregiver. In another case, your parents may be open to the nursing home idea, but if you are uncomfortable with the concept, getting round-the-clock home-based caregiver services will help. This option makes most seniors feel comfortable because it keeps their dignity intact. It also offers both parents and children the opportunity to spend the parents’ final days with the family. Moreover, even with a chronic illness, the calm and peace of home promote healing, prevent stress and anxiety, and enhance longevity.
Taking on the Responsibility of Care for Your Elderly Parents
Caring for your elderly parent is not just a poignant issue but a financial load on their children if they cannot plan and arrange a secure transition to old age. Thus, when the family is constrained budget-wise, adult children have to seriously consider taking the challenge of caring for their aging parents themselves. All parents would love this setup, and most sons and daughters would welcome the opportunity to care for their parents. It will not be an easy task, but it will be a rewarding experience.
Ensuring Comfort and Safety for Your Elderly Parents
For the infirmities that go with their advancing years, comfort and safety are your primary concerns as you assume the enormous task of caring for your elderly parents. The following tips should help you make your parents comfortable as early as the first day in their new home – your home:
• Your parent’s bed should be as comfortable as possible. If your parent yearns for his or her old bed, arrange for its transport to your place. Next, to balanced nutrition, nothing is more precious for an aging person than a good night’s rest.
• Your parent’s bed should be accessible from both sides. Do not place the bed with one side against the wall.
• Ensure that there is a bedside night lamp. Provide fixtures that will permit the putting of night lights in the hallway and on the way to the bathroom.
• If you have a sentimental parent who prefers his or her old bed, ensure that the mattress is not soiled or saggy; otherwise, keep the old bed but replace the mattress. Your parent’s aching back needs a soft mattress. Using a thick mattress pad increases the comfort and softness of the mattress.
• If you are caring for a parent with an incontinence problem, a waterproof mattress is your best option to keep it always dry and easy to clean.
• Provide several comfortable and preferably hypoallergenic pillows.
• Ensure that the blanket or comforter is of suitable thickness for the year’s season.
• Keep a spare blanket near the bedside for easy access when your parent needs it.
• Provide a bedside table. Your parent’s essential gadgets should be within easy reach, and placing them on this table is an ideal location. Such devices could include reading and distance glasses, dentures, hearing aids, remote controls for thermostats and televisions, etc.
• The TV is a favorite appliance among the elderly, whereas others prefer the good old-fashioned radio
Aging parents being cared for at home by their sons or daughters complain a lot, not just about their deteriorating condition, particularly their persistent weakness, but also about losing their independence. Wait a minute; is this turning out to be a reversal of roles? Do you remember how you used to resent your parent’s setting of limits and felt your independence was being curtailed? This is almost precisely what they might think about your overwhelming concern for their safety, and you know much better now that it had always been for your good. Now, it’s your turn to convince them that you are just looking for their safety and well-being.
Proactively Averting Falls, Mishaps, and Injuries for Seniors
The aging of the populace, in general, is hailed as a triumph over disease and life-threatening injuries. This acclaimed outcome of man’s continued quest for humanity’s survival poses an accompanying challenge to healthcare professionals and caregivers in fall prevention. In other words, improving the longevity of men also triggers a significant increase in falls and fall-related injuries.
From your viewpoint as a caring and loving son or daughter of an elderly parent, keeping your parents safe from preventable accidents is an utmost concern. Even if your aging parent feels some loss of independence, the trade-off for preventing accidents and falls is always acceptable. The good news, however, is that there are many simple ways by which you can reduce the risk of falls and injuries without making your parents feel that he or she is losing more and more of their independence.
Caring for an elderly parent in your home would require innovative features to support a safe and comfortable lifestyle.
Essential Home Features for a Safe and Comfortable Living Space for Elderly Parents
• A hobby room or space with low work surfaces
• Grab bars in the bathroom, toilet, or where the elderly spend time regularly
• Wider doors
• Non-skid floors
Top 10 Strategies to Safeguard Seniors from Accidents and Falls at Home
- Eliminate clutter that may trigger tripping, falls, and other accidents. If you eliminate the usual and innocent-looking triggers, falls and accidents at home can be prevented. Leave no shoes on the stairs; free your doorstep of tripping hazards like newspapers or toys; clean your kitchen floor; and eliminate rugs with thick edges.
- Organize your home for elderly comfort. Many falls and accidents happen while an elderly person is trying to reach for something beyond the limits of their functionalities. See to it that the items they need or use frequently are between their waist and shoulder level. Old people become victims of nasty falls when they attempt to get hard-to-reach items by climbing on stools, stacking books, and even using stepladders.Provide handy tools or equipment to help them reach for items on high shelves. Offer them a long-handled reacher or similar equipment and show them where it is kept. Teach them to use it instead of climbing using furniture or stepladders.
- Maintain a safe bathroom for the elderly. Install grab bars in the shower area where they can hold onto them. The elderly usually struggle to stand for extended periods or walk without an aide to stabilize their balance. Grab bars are also an essential feature beside the toilet. Provide them with a safe shower seat.Put a rubber mat in the shower and even in the tub. Bolster safety with a non-skid rug adjacent to the rubber mat when possible. Wet surfaces are accident-prone areas for the elderly. Always remind them to take things slow and easy.
- Use proper lighting to help their failing eyesight. Light the path they traverse at night, like hallways and stairways. Put a unique light near the toilet seat and leave it on during the evening. A well-lighted house can help prevent nightfall for the elderly.
- Take proper measures for their failing eyesight. Make an appointment to see their eye doctor for a checkup and a possible update to their prescription for their glasses. Often, just a slight change can make a world of difference. There are also online options to help improve eyesight naturally that you can look into.
- Skid-proof house rugs. The functional limitations of elderly people make them vulnerable to tripping-induced accidents. Ensure that rugs do not cause falls. You can secure the carpet using Rug Grippers, a non-slip surface attached to the bottom of a carpet. Rubber-backed rugs are ideal. You can even connect the rugs/mats directly with double-sided tape.Carpet Tiles: A Safer Flooring Alternative for the Elderly Over Rugs on Wood Floors
Carpet tiles offer a safer and more practical flooring alternative for the elderly than rugs on wood floors. One primary reason is the reduction in tripping hazards. Loose rugs can easily slip, bunch up, or have curled edges, posing a significant risk for falls among older adults. In contrast, carpet tiles are designed to be securely attached to the floor, providing a stable surface with minimal movement.
Additionally, carpet tiles offer consistent cushioning and support across the entire floor, which can help alleviate joint discomfort and reduce fatigue for seniors who spend extended periods standing or walking. The uniform surface and thickness of carpet tiles also make it easier for individuals with mobility aids, such as walkers or wheelchairs, to navigate the space. Grey carpet tiles are the hottest color right now.
Regarding maintenance, carpet tiles are a convenient option as they can be individually replaced if damaged or stained, reducing the need for complete floor replacements. This cost-effective approach is particularly beneficial for the elderly, who may be on a fixed income or have limited resources for home repairs.
Overall, installing carpet tiles provides a safer, more comfortable, and easily maintained flooring solution for older adults, making it a better option than rugs on wood floors. For an estimate of the cost, you can use this carpet tile cost calculator.
While experts generally agree that minimizing tripping hazards and ensuring a safe environment for the elderly is essential, individual preferences and specific recommendations may vary. However, several professional organizations and experts emphasize the importance of choosing the right flooring to reduce fall risks and enhance comfort.
- The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggests that older adults should remove or secure loose rugs and other floor coverings to reduce fall risks. Carpet tiles adhering to the floor can be a viable solution.
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) also recommends removing or securing rugs to prevent falls, a leading cause of injury among older adults.
- Occupational therapists and aging-in-place specialists often suggest choosing slip-resistant and cushioned flooring options to minimize the risk of falls and provide comfort to seniors. While all experts do not explicitly endorse carpet tiles, their features align with the advice these organizations and professionals give. When considering flooring options for the elderly, assessing individual needs, preferences, and mobility requirements is essential. Consulting with an occupational therapist, geriatrician, or aging-in-place specialist can provide tailored recommendations for specific situations.
If you are in the UK, Carpet Tile Wholesale is our recommendation.
7. Provide proper footwear for your aging parents and convince them to use it.
Get rid of their shoes with slippery soles. Remind them not to walk in their socks or stockings alone. During the cold season, please provide them with socks and rubber pads that can be purchased from hospitals and select medical supplies stores.
Do not give them athletic shoes, especially those with thick soles and deep treads, which may get them stuck on surfaces and could lead to falls. The best footwear for the elderly is supportive, low-heeled shoes. Shoes with elastic laces are ideal.
8. Keep your stairs safe.
Endeavor to install handrails on both sides of the stairs. Maintain dry, non-skid stair surfaces. Fall-proof stairs should not be slippery. Keep the stairs well-lighted. Use fluorescent tape on the edges of the top and bottom steps of stairs as a readily visible warning strip.
As a better option, you can locate your parent’s room downstairs or on the main floor of the house. As an additional precaution, put all their frequently used items in their bedroom or at least on the main floor. Minimizing their need to use the stairs means a lesser risk of falls and accidents associated with stairs.
9. Keep a close watch on the effects of certain medications.
This suggestion focuses on ensuring that your elderly parent remains vigilant throughout the day to minimize the risk of falls and accidents. If prescription medications could impact their balance or cause lightheadedness or dizziness, it is crucial to provide supervision during their waking hours. Some cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, and pain relievers may lead to dizziness, sleepiness, or balance problems.
Before a fall, it’s beneficial to consult your parent’s doctor about whether any prescribed medications could contribute to falls due to reduced alertness or dizziness. If needed, the doctor may adjust the medication or dosage. Discussing this matter with your parent’s primary healthcare provider is essential.
10. Consider the option to let your parents use canes or walkers.
Many people deny that they are getting old and may need special aid. Some are even too vain to accept that aging is inevitable in the human life cycle. However, the fact doesn’t change that a cane or walker can help keep their steps steadier. Observe your parent or ask a physician to examine your parent’s gait. A cane or walker can help prevent falls due to balance issues. Besides, if your mom is fashion-conscious, there are nice-looking canes that won’t detract from your mom’s impeccable taste and style.
Bonus: Encourage your parents to exercise for balance improvement.
If your parent’s balance is slowly or abruptly impaired, the doctor can recommend specific exercise routines to improve balance. Often, a physical therapist, in tandem with the physician, can substantially help improve stability and prevent falls associated with balance problems. Your part is to encourage and inspire your parents to adhere to the regimen and do it regularly. It will help if you can exercise with your mom or dad.
About Kinesis Health Technologies
Kinesis Health Technologies is an Irish company that develops and offers innovative healthcare technologies to prevent falls among older adults and people with mobility issues. Their primary product, Kinesis QTUG™ (Quantitative Timed Up and Go), is a portable device that uses wearable sensors to assess fall risk and frailty. Here are some pros and cons of Kinesis Health Technologies and its products:
- Objective assessment: Kinesis QTUG™ provides an accurate and quantitative method for assessing fall risk and frailty, removing the potential for human error and subjective judgments.
- Quick and easy testing: The device allows healthcare professionals to conduct assessments in just a few minutes, saving time and resources.
- Data-driven decision-making: Kinesis QTUG™ generates detailed reports to inform personalized care plans, rehabilitation programs, and patient interventions.
- Mobility analysis: The device captures data on various mobility parameters, such as gait speed, stride length, and balance, helping healthcare professionals identify specific areas to target for improvement.
- Research-backed: Kinesis Health Technologies collaborates with academic and research institutions, ensuring their products are built on evidence-based research.
- Cost: Kinesis QTUG™ and other Kinesis products might be prohibitive for some healthcare providers, particularly smaller practices or those with limited budgets.
- Training: Healthcare professionals may need the training to learn how to use the devices properly and interpret the results effectively.
- Technology limitations: While technology can revolutionize fall risk assessment, it may not capture all relevant factors contributing to an individual’s fall risk, such as cognitive or psychological factors.
- Device maintenance: Like any technology-based product, Kinesis devices may require regular updates, calibration, and maintenance, which can incur additional costs and resources.
- Accessibility: Kinesis Health Technologies is an Irish company, which might limit the availability of its products and support services in other regions. However, they are working on expanding its global reach.
Kinesis Health Technologies offers promising fall risk assessment and frailty evaluation solutions. While the cost, training, and accessibility may be barriers for some, the benefits of objective, data-driven decision-making and personalized care plans make it an attractive option for healthcare providers focused on fall prevention and patient care.
Originally Publishing: November 21, 2013