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These scientists are tripping seniors on purpose

These scientists are tripping seniors on purpose
photo courtesy of shutterstock

There's a group of researchers who are tripping seniors on purpose, but don't call the police. They're actually doing it to prevent disastrous falls later on.

This is a big step because falling is a huge problem that can lead to broken bones and other health issues. Clive Pai is a physical therapy professor who came up with a creative new way to prevent seniors from falling. Instead of using strength and range of motion exercises, he's helping elderly folks learn to catch themselves to avoid a fall.

It's based on promising, preliminary results with a lab-built walkway that causes people to unexpectedly trip, as if stepping on a banana peel.

The researchers at the University of Illinois used sensors on a participant's body to see how they reacted when they tripped. They also wear harnesses attached to the ceiling in case they do fall. As they trip, participants learn how to correct themselves so they don't fall again. And, it doesn't take long to see the results.

Pai's preliminary research, published in June, found that 24 similar "trips" in just one walkway session taught older adults to learn to catch themselves and reduced their chances of falling outside the lab, during everyday living, by 50 percent up to a year later.

They're now using specialized treadmills to run the study. Pai has received a $1 million, five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging to continue his study with 300 subjects.

It's great when people think outside the box to improve safety for others. And, Pai is not the only one. Click here to see a new device that could prevent a broken hip if you do fall.

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Source: Seattle PI
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