Falls are a common problem for seniors, with many having at least one slip or trip per year according to NHS figures. However, a French company specialising in air bag technology may have created the solution to the widespread problem of elderly falling; the Hip’Safe.
Helite, a globally renowned airbag producer, are known for creating sophisticated and effective airbags for the light aircraft industry as well as more specific activities that require protective gear, including horse riding, motorcycling and skiing. But earlier this year, the company switched their focus to humans instead, with the specific aim of helping seniors regain their confidence when mobile by providing them with a form of wearable protection that could be used in the event of a fall. Consequently, the company created Hip’Safe; an electronically powered belt that can be worn by seniors containing two hip airbags that automatically inflate upon the detection of a fall.
This innovative device has a simple function; to protect a person’s hips and pelvis from being broken or fractured during a fall. As such, the belt works like this: a highly advanced electronic system continually analyses the person’s movements. If a fall is sensed, two air bags are deployed within 0.8 seconds that cushion the fall, protecting the person’s pelvic area from damage.
As well as being highly technological, the Hip’Safe is also efficient, adjustable and user-friendly. Not only is the belt incredibly lightweight and easy to use via an on/off system, but it also comes in five different sizes, all of which can be adjusted for a better fit. Additionally, its battery can last up to 7 days and is easily recharged using a plug in USB cable. Finally, the belt also includes a machine washable cover and replaceable gas inflators, meaning it can be used again and again! Check out the video below for a full demonstration of the Hip'Safe:
The technology behind the Hip’Safe is the result of over 10 years’ worth of research carried out by experts at Helite HQ. Before its market release, the belt was rigorously tried and tested through numerous crash tests, with several prototypes being created prior to the final product. During testing, the Hip’Safe was compared to a number of other standard hip protectors, with the results showing that the presence of airbags decreased the impact of falls by around 85% and thus could significantly reduce the risk of hip breakages and pelvic fractures.
With only 500 available in across Europe, the Hip’Safe carries a fairly hefty price tag and from April, can be purchased from €649 (around £575!). Although probably too expensive for the majority of seniors, this no less fantastic invention could pave the way for other industry retailers to turn their attention to the issue of falls, meaning we could be seeing many more creations like the Hip’Safe in the near future.
For more information concerning falls, head over to our dedicated health page and check out our Senior Exercise Series to discover a variety of balance exercises for elderly to help you improve your stability.