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New app for allied health professionals and nurses

By Karen Keast | Last Updated: 19-11-2013

NeuRA research fellow Dr Kim Delbaere works with the iconFES app

A new iPad app has been designed to help physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses better assess older people’s fear of falling.

Neuroscience Research Australia has developed the iconFES app (available for $4.99 through iTunes), which is the first app of its kind to use images to describe a range of activities and situations, and it has also been proven to work with people who have dementia.

NeuRA research fellow Dr Kim Delbaere, an emerging leading international researcher in the area of falls in older people, said her research showed having a fear of falling is an independent risk factor for older people falling.

“One in three older people
fall at least once a year. About two in three people have a fear of falling,” she said.

“It is more common to be fearful of falling than to fall. Many, many older people would say they have some fear of falling.”

Dr Delbaere said older people with a fear of falling often adopt a “cautious gait”, which can increase their risk of falling.

“It’s not a stable way of walking so they actually make it harder for themselves,” she said.

Dr Delbaere said the app aims to help allied health professionals and nurses better assess fear of falling, enabling them to create targeted fall prevention strategies for older people.

“It’s a common problem in older adults that people have fallen or know someone who has fallen and they just become worried about falling in the future and they stop doing certain physical activities or social activities,” she said.

NeuRA has also released its IPEQ app; an incidental and planned exercise questionnaire, (also $4.99 through iTunes) for clinicians and also for older adults, which works to assess older people’s low, basic and high-intensity physical activities.

Dr Delbaere said the independent, not-for-profit research institute plans to release more apps associated with falling, including an app that will assess balance and reaction times in older people.
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