Sensor technologies aiming at fall prevention in institutionalized old adults: a synthesis of current knowledge.

Kosse NM, Brands K, Bauer JM, Hortobagyi T, Lamoth CJ.
Int J Med Inform. 2013 Sep;82(9):743-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2013.06.001.



Falls are a serious health problem in old adults especially in nursing home residents and hospitalized patients. To prevent elderly from falling, sensors have been increasingly used in intramural care settings. However, there is no clear overview of the current used technologies and their results in fall prevention.


The present study reviews sensor systems that prevent falls in geriatric patients living in an intramural setting and describe fall rates, fall-related injuries, false alarms, and user experience associated with such systems.


We conducted a systematic search for studies that used sensor technologies with the aim to prevent falls in institutionalized geriatric patients.


A total of 12 studies met the search criteria. Three randomized clinical trials reported no reductions in fall rate but three before-after studies reported significant reductions of 2.4-37 falls per 1000 patient days. Although there was up to 77% reduction in fall-related injuries and there was relatively low, 16%, rate of false alarms, the current data are inconsistent whether current sensor technologies are effective in reducing the number of falls in institutionalized geriatric patients. The occurrence of false alarms (16%) was too high to maintain full attention of the nursing staff. Additionally including the users opinion and demands in developing and introducing sensor systems into intramural care settings seems to be required to make an intervention successful.


The evidence is inconsistent whether the current sensor systems can prevent falls and fall-related injuries in institutionalized elderly. Further research should focus more comprehensively on user requirements and effective ways using intelligent alarms.

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