New funding supports development of fall prevention technology for older adults

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

An interdisciplinary research team from University of Waterloo Faculties of Engineering and Applied Health Sciences and the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging will be testing a method to help prevent falls in older adults, enabled by a $50,000 Spark Program grant from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI).

The funding allows the interdisciplinary team to test the effectiveness of a promising new technology developed by Richard Hughson, a Kinesiology professor and Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health, and Engineering Professor Sean Peterson. The technology is currently being commercialized by Pression Inc.

The project, called “The Second Heart: Active compression for the maintenance of blood pressure and brain blood flow in the elderly,” is led by James Milligan of the Centre for Family Medicine and Schlegel Specialist in Mobility and Falls. 

"Falls are a significant concern in older adults,” Milligan said. “We suspect that many are caused by light-headedness when standing up, due to decreased blood flow to the brain. New technology developed by Dr. Peterson and Dr. Hughson use individually tailored, intermittent compression to the lower legs to increase the return of blood from the legs to the heart and brain. This can reduce risk of dizziness, falls and maybe even enhance brain function.”

The team is hoping to have initial results ready in 12 months.