Vipul Lugade, Binghamton University – Using Smartphones to Assess Older Adults Fall Risk

On Binghamton University Week: Preventing falls is crucial for older adults.

Vipul Lugade, associate professor of physical therapy, looks at improving balance for seniors.

Vipul Lugade joined the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences in September 2021. He is the director of the Motion Analysis Research Laboratory and an associate professor in the Division of Physical Therapy.

Vipul’s research includes the development of tools to remotely monitor activity, the investigation of body-worn sensors, evaluating concussions in adolescents and the risk of falls in older adults, and the use of large-scale datasets to optimize disease prognosis and recommend individualized intervention in a range of populations.

Over the past 12 years, Lugade has also provided data science and software solutions to medical, academic and independent engineering groups through a company he founded, Control One, LLC. He previously held positions as a postdoctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic and as an independent scholar in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Using Smartphones to Assess Older Adults Fall Risk

As adults age, they start to lose their balance. One out of every four adults ages 65 and older in the United States is likely to suffer from a fall, the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in that age group.

As the director of the Motion Analysis Research Laboratory, we are focused on discovering ways to prevent these falls. A first step to prevent falls is to be aware of one’s ability to maintain balance while standing and walking. The ability to do two tasks simultaneously is compromised as someone reaches their golden years.

Key to our research is using the technologies in our smartphones to measure a person’s likelihood of falling. Our goal is to create an easy-to-use app for helping older adults with balance-related difficulties. Using the app we developed, we use the phone’s accelerometers to measure how much body sway is happening while a person stands still. Along with assessments, we can also deliver balance interventions through the smartphone application in the hopes of improving stability in older adults. 

To help us achieve this goal, our lab contains cutting-edge equipment to measure and analyze movement. One critical piece of equipment is a Computerized Dynamic Posturography, or CDP system, which measures “postural sway” by analyzing foot pressure, force and motor reactions. If individuals improve their sway after following the smartphone-based balance intervention, the program could be seen as clinically effective.

Our study found that seniors could successfully use the smartphone app, and its development could be a boon to patient balance and well-being. We are excited to have the first step completed in a process that serves to help a set of people at high risk who are often disregarded or seen as fragile.

Read More:
[Binghamton] – Could a smartphone app help prevent falls in older adults?