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Sorbashock: Wow, I fell but did not get hurt.

Note: this is a guest post by John Reinhart, CEO, International Center for Long Term Care Innovation “InnovateLTC”. This outfit is a business accelerator and thought-leader in the elder care space, and friend of Aging2.0, based in Louisville, KY. I saw this product at a recent trade show, and asked John to write a post about it, given it seems to have a lot of potential - Stephen J.

As we age episodes of instability on our feet increase. Many times the cause is a combination of reasons including frail physical health, chronic medical conditions and various prescription medications. Sometimes persons of every age have physical limitations due to disability from birth or due to accidents. Our son Zac faces the challenges of Cerebral Palsy daily at 22 and uses a cane or walker for ambulation…but still falls. If you are like me it tugs at our heart watching those commercials where seniors that remind us of our parents are lying on the floor calling out “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” A fractured hip or leg become major health challenges for the aging population and often lead to serious declines in both quantity and quality of life. Today the solutions are life alert buttons and gait belts. A gait belt is used for rehabilitation and protection at nursing facilities to allow caregivers to hold on to someone during the process of getting around.

The idea that the status quo of falling including occasional serious injuries are just part of life is not acceptable for my son or any aging person when considering that we all yearn for independence. I recall our kids as babies and their drive to first crawl, then stand, then run. They were both so determined while we anxiously tried to keep them safe. We were scared of them “falling” but knew it was the crucial steps towards running. Where was the gait belt when I needed it? WAS IT REALLY SO MUCH THE FALLING THAT BOTHERED US OR WAS IT THE WORRY ABOUT INJURIES FROM THOSE FALLS?

As innovators we seek out disruptive alternatives to the current state of being. Last year we met a company whose inventions can literally change the world by preventing and reducing the severity of injuries when those inevitable falls occur. The patents were created in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame in their aerospace group. This company is called SorbaShock and their product is an under layer for flooring that literally “absorbs” up to 38% of the force from a fall which leads to an approximately 70% reduction in injuries as proven in lab testing.

Image: Installation in Signature HealthCARE’s facility, Louisville Kentucky January 2012. Credit: Innovate LTC.

The key to the safety benefit is that when applied the flooring surface still remains firm to walk upon so it doesn’t create falls in the aging population as they shuffle or use assisted devices. This product will benefit residents and caregivers alike in numerous healthcare organization including nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities, but we are putting in our house to protect Zac the next time he falls.

InnovateLTC is proud to partner with innovative companies like SorbaShock and improve both the quality of life and quality of care for our global aging population. The baby boomers demand quality and innovation in healthcare. Technology offers
us new approaches to address old challenges. A toast to safety and getting back up!

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