It's a gas! Wearable airbag to help prevent serious injuries from falls

A wearable airbag to prevent or reduce injuries during falls is dividing opinions among the independent living community.


As we get older the risk of falling and injuring ourselves is vastly increased, with hip fractures and similar injuries being a leading cause for elderly people to be admitted to hospitals. According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide, and adults older than 65 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.

Even if a fall doesn’t necessarily prove to be fatal, the injury is often life changing. Elderly people who injure themselves in a fall are far more likely to never fully recover their mobility, and consequently, their independence.


The theory behind this new product, as explained by CEO and founder Drew Lakatos in a TEDMED talk, is that when airbags were first introduced in cars, it significantly reduced the number of deaths and serious injuries from collisions on the road. So why not apply this same principle to other areas where our safety is at risk?


Active Protective is an organisation that has created the Smart Belt, which automatically deploys airbags over the hip when a fall is detected. Acting just like the airbag in a car, it cushions the most vulnerable part of the body on impact. Using 3D motion sensors it can detect when the wearer is falling and immediately deploys a 2 inch thick air cushion around the hip area a split second before the person hits the ground.



The concept is not without its fans. Test users have spoken highly of it citing their increasing frailty, reduced balance and fear of serious injury as strong motives for using the belt. The potential it has to keep people independent in their own home for longer is hugely exciting and a major step forward for independent living.

However on the opposite end of the spectrum there are arguments about having to wear a large belt some may find cumbersome. The possibility of it being triggered accidentally (whether a justified concern or not) can put some people off a little too. It should also be noted that were the airbag to inflate accidentally it would almost certainly cause a fall if the wearer lacked stability in the first place.


What do you think of this idea? Do you think it could really work? Your comments below…


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