Sharing hi-tech solutions for reducing pain and falls in older adults

By Costa Maragos Posted: March 9, 2018 6:00 a.m.

(l-r) Gretta Lynn Ell, Saskatchewan Health Authority; Dr. Stephen Robinovitch, Professor at Simon Fraser University  in charge of the program Technology for Injury Prevention in Seniors and Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Centre on Aging and Health.
(l-r) Gretta Lynn Ell, Saskatchewan Health Authority; Dr. Stephen Robinovitch, Professor at Simon Fraser University in charge of the program Technology for Injury Prevention in Seniors and Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Centre on Aging and Health. Photos courtesy of CAH

The leading cause of injury among older Canadians continues to be falls, particularly those over the age of 65.  Moreover, as many as 90% of those who live in long-term care homes suffer from persistent pain.

Falls among older adults in Canada cost the health care system about $2 billion a year according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The University of Regina’s Centre on Aging and Health is inviting the public to learn about the latest technologies that can help prevent falls and manage pain.

Centre for Aging and Health
Staff and trainees at Dr. Hadjistavropoulos’ U of R lab are coding pain behaviours as part of the development of an automated computer vision system.
Addressing Pain and Injuries in Long-Term Care  Through the Use of Advanced Technologies features speakers who will share their perspectives on dealing with falls prevention and pain management.

Visitors will learn how technological advances are helping keep people upright and safe.

The event takes place Tuesday, March 13, at 6:00 p.m. at the University’s Research and Innovation Centre (RI 119). Admission is free and open to the public.

“Falls are frequent in long-term care facilities. In addition, pain problems are often not identified early, because people with severe dementias have limited ability to communicate the subjective experience of pain,” says Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Centre on Aging and Health. “Our presentations March 13 will offer people insight into the work being done and advances achieved to prevent falls and manage pain.”

Much of the work to be discussed is supported by the AGE WELL Network of National Centres of Excellence.

Over a third of seniors who have suffered falls end up in long-term care homes.

One of the speakers at the event is Dr. Stephen Robinovitch, Professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He’s in charge of the program Technology for Injury Prevention in Seniors.

Rabinovitch’s research team is developing new technologies to predict, detect and prevent falls and fall-related injuries among people at high risk in both long-term care and acute care environments.

Researchers are analyzing data acquired through wearable sensors and networks of video cameras in long-term care facilities.

“The goal is to identify differences in movement patterns during falls,” says Hadjistavropoulos. “This could lead to low-cost solutions to preventing falls, such shock-absorbent flooring, fall mats, and padded furniture along with wearable protective gear.”   

Hadjistavropoulos and his team are developing an automated system designed to identify pain and to monitor pain behaviours in people with severe dementia who are unable to verbally community their pain experience. This work will also be presented.

Also speaking is Gretta Lynn Ell, from the Saskatchewan Health Authority and who has decades of experience working in long-term care. Ell will speak to the problem of pain and falls in nursing homes from a health region administrator’s perspective.

Ell received the 2016 Centre on Aging and Health Award for Innovation in Health Care Delivery.

The lecture March 13 is part of Regina Brain Awareness Week March 12 – 16 in Regina. 

Event:     Addressing Pain and Injuries in Long-Term Care Through the Use of Advanced Technologies
Date:      Tuesday, March 13
Time:       6:00 p.m.
Location: Research and Innovation Centre (RI 119)
This event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Lot 1 M.