High-Tech Insoles and an App for Reducing Falls

A senior man and woman power walking on a boardwalk and smiling

Award Date: 2016

Project Lead(s): Debbie Mendelson, Physiotherapist

Project Title: Virtual Care Falls Project

What is the issue?

In Canada, 20 to 30 per cent of older adults experience falls each year. Most falls happen during regular activities such as walking, turning, reaching, or bending 

What did we do?

In partnership with Greybox Solutions., we designed a new approach to preventing falls. It uses insoles with motion sensors that communicate with a mobile app. The app provides exercises, education, feedback on movements, and motivational messages. We developed education resources on topics including safe reaching, outdoor mobility, bathroom safety, night safety, vitamin D and bone health, and the proper use of a walker. We also created a user manual and a pie-chart so users could track their progress. 

After an initial training session, 24 older adults over the age of 55 with a history of falls or a fear of falling provided feedback. Fourteen of these older adults tested it at home for two weeks

What did we find?

Participants found the insoles comfortable to wear. Participants liked the educational content and preferred this feature to the step count and exercise feedback features. The project team provided more technical support in home settings than anticipatedMany participants provided feedback that the exercise tracking and step counts were not accurate