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University Studies Why Elderly Fall


September 20, 2014

Mark Grabiner, Phd, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, has a few ideas. Mark is Director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Laboratory at UIC, who have been studying just this issue for over 20 years. Seeing as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an older person is admitted to an emergency room every 18 seconds of every day, it's good that somebody is looking into it.

"The way they walk and the way they fall is actually a result of the changes that occur normally as we proceed in chronological age," Grabiner said in an interview with ABC News.

Grabiner's studies use women over the age of 62, as studies have proven that they are the most at risk of a serious fall. Over 20 motion sensors are placed on the subject's body, the same kind of technology used in movie making to record an actor in front of a "blue screen." The subject is then securely tethered to safety ropes, and actually forced to slip, trip and fall safely while the motion sensors are monitored.

"We are able to see things as quickly as 5 milliseconds, which is way faster than you can ever see with the human eye," said Noah Rosenblatt, also of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Armed with data from experiments such as these, researchers are hoping to both learn more about why and how the elderly fall, as well as, ultimately, teach seniors how to fall more safely.

For more information visit the University of Chicago at Illinois Bio-mechanics website at http://www.uic.edu/ahs/biomechanics/

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