A new device called the Hip’Air airbag, which is essentially a belt with airbags that inflate as soon as it senses the wearer is about to fall, could greatly reduce the chance of elderly people suffering hip injuries. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the belt, which costs $790, is equipped with two airbags that inflate above the hips to absorb the impact. They only take about 80 milliseconds to inflate, the designers say. The airbag was on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently.
The company, Helite, says the device absorbs 90 percent of the impact of a fall and unlike other devices out in the market, pads the wearer in anticipation of a fall rather than cushioning a fall after it has occurred. The company that makes these devices says the average fall takes about 0.4 seconds and the bag detects someone falling in just about 0.2 seconds and deploys the bags in 80 milliseconds. The gas canisters that power the airbags must be replaced after each fall at a cost of $50. The device, which weighs around 2.2 pounds, is worn above the hips.
Hip Injuries Are Serious
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a broken hip is one of the most serious injuries you can suffer in a fall. It is difficult to recover from a hip fracture and even after they recover, many elderly individuals, find it difficult to live on their own. As the U.S. population ages, the number of hip fractures is only likely to increase, the CDC states.
The agency estimates that each year, more than 300,000 older people – those 65 and older – are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. Women experience 75 percent of all hip fractures because they tend to fall more than men and they also have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more brittle or likely to break. Also, the chances of breaking your hip go up as you age.
What Steps Can You Take
There are steps the elderly and their caregivers can take in order to prevent these types of catastrophic falls and injuries:
- Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any might make you dizzy and prone to falling.
- If you are a woman, get screened (and treated, if necessary) for osteoporosis.
- Do strength and balance exercises and exercises that make your legs stronger. Tai Chi is a good example of this type of exercise.
- Get your eyes checked once a year and update your eyeglasses if necessary.
- Make your home safer by removing items you could trip over, installing railings especially in the bathroom and adding brighter light bulbs so you have sufficient light.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.