Client: Janice Schwartz, MD, UCSF Clinical Professor of Medicine, Research Director of the Jewish Home of San Francisco
Team: Hannah Adelsberg, Celia Cheung, Eric Katz, Suzanne Chou
One of the most significant risks to elders living independently is falling. A fall often results in a loss of independence due to injury, such as hip fracture, and also due to a fear of falling again. The majority of fatal falls of elderly individuals happen on stairs, with two-thirds of these occurring on the descent. The number of falls that occur on stairs is extremely disproportional to the amount of time that the elderly spend on them. The most common commercial product to address this need is the stairlift, a motorized chair that ascends and descends a staircase. The stairlift, however, can be prohibitively expensive and is very slow. It also limits the user’s feeling of independence, so some elders do not use it even if it is in their home. There is a need for a lower-cost device that prevents falls on the stairs. This project seeks to develop a device that enables independently living elders with limited mobility to ascend and descend floors in their homes without falling.