Today, North Americans have an average life expectancy of 80.5 years.4
According to the United States Census Bureau5 and Statistics Canada2, 30.5 percent of North Americans are over the age of 55, with 75.5 percent of those between 55 and 74. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be older than the of age 653.
That's almost 82 million individuals1,5 who currently need or will require senior healthcare services in the next decade.
We are witnessing an unprecedented demographic shift.
Since the advent of modern medicine in the early 1800s, this shift has been a long time coming. Vaccines, antibiotics, and other medical advancements allowed people to live longer. This resulted in healthier lives, which slowly increased the world population. The baby boom after the Second World War created the largest generation ever seen. Today, these phenomena combine to contribute to a rapidly growing senior population.
Of course, as people age, mobility issues become a serious concern.Back to Top
According to the World Health Organization, falls are a major public health problem globally15. In North America, 50-75 percent of seniors experience a fall each year.
There are many risk factors that can lead to a fall, including lower body weakness, vitamin D deficiency, medication, vision and inner-ear problems, poor footwear, as well as gait and balance problems.6 7
Each year in North America, falls lead to 2.8 million hospital visits and 800,000 hospitalizations8. Unfortunately, injuries caused by accidental falls lead to decreased quality of life and increased costs for healthcare providers.
Effective October 1, 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) no longer pays for health care costs associated with falls that occurred during hospitalization, deeming them “events that should never occur during hospitalization.”Back to Top
Accidental falls cost North American nursing homes an average of $6,259 per fall. That adds up to an average cost of $620 thousand dollars a year for each home.9
The numbers are even more bleak for hospitals, with the average North American hospital spending $1.2million annually on accidental falls at a rate of $13,316 per fall.9 That’s millions of dollars that healthcare organizations absorb as operating costs.
Add to those figures the legal cost of accidental falls. Both premises liability and medical negligence theory dictate that senior care facilities are liable for slip and falls on their property. Failure to take into account their residents’ fall risk could also be against state or provincial regulations, as well as contradicting the facilities’ own protocols for guarding against resident falls.16
Of course, it’s not just the financial costs of accidental falls that is alarming or even most important.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injures for older Americans10. 30 percent of falls result in a serious injury11, and every year 27,000 deaths are attributed to fall incidents.8
With the senior population only growing, this is nothing short of an epidemic.
Our healthcare system has tried to address the problem of accidental falls. 100 percent of hospitals and senior care facilities have fall management programs in place and perform fall risk and frailty assessments. Yet, accidental falls continue to be a persistent problem.
The status quo of subjective surveys - the Rockwood Frailty Scale, the Morse Fall Scale, or the Burg Balance Score - is simply not working.17
Our current healthcare environment demands a better, objective way of identifying patients who are at a high risk of falling.Back to Top
The World Health Organization defines effective fall prevention programs as those that aim to reduce the number of people who fall, the rate of falls and the severity of injury should a fall occur.15
Of course, a major challenge of preventing falls is that it is hard to be certain who is at immediate risk of falling. Patients may not know their risk factors and cannot always perceive that they are at risk, it’s the healthcare facility’s job to find out.
Evidence based research shows that gait speed and symmetry, harmonic ratio, postural sway, and peak underfoot pressures can all indicate a patient’s fall risk.20
Modern technology, capable of measuring these parameters, has been designed specifically to help.Back to Top
Stepscan® is a state-of-the-art computerized mobility assessment technology. Through the use of a groundbreaking electronic, modular floor tile system with proprietary software, Stepscan’s innovative technology tracks patterns of walking and balance as subjects move across the floor.
Used as a mobility assessment tool, Stepscan is capable of measuring and tracking irregularities in foot pressure, stride, speed, sway and progress line. It can easily and quickly determine baseline measures and level of impairment, identifying patients who are at high risk for falling.
Screening and monitoring using the Stepscan system demonstrates duty of care in ensuring patient safety and well-being.
Stepscan's patient-centric design allows for unobtrusive assessments and a positive patient experience. Patients can be assessed in shoes or barefoot. Seamless data collection and automated, easy-to-interpret reports create significant time efficiencies for clinicians.
"With the Stepscan system I can complete a postural assessment and functional movement screen in just 15 minutes."
Marc MacDonald, PT at Reactive Health Physiotherapy
The Stepscan mobility assessment tool is capable of measuring and tracking irregularities in gait and balance, allowing healthcare facilities to easily and quickly identify residents who are at high risk for falling. These measurements are objective, providing a single fall-risk estimate (0-100 percent risk) of the potential for falling in the next year.
Stepscan’s parameters are based on evidence-based, peer-reviewed journals. These objective measures provide reliable information about a patients’ mobility, supporting treatment plan decisions and encouraging patient compliance.
Literature published in a number of peer-reviewed journals has highlighted many shortfalls in existing competitive gait analysis systems and cited that the inability to obtain repeatable, accurate measures makes them unsuitable for use in a clinical setting.
In response, the International Foot and Ankle Biomechanics group (i-FAB)19 published a set of voluntary technical performance standards18 for medical gait and pressure measurement devices (PMDs).
Stepscan® is the first system that was designed and produced to meet these recommended specifications. It is also one of only two PMDs worldwide, and the only one in North America, that meets these international standards.
This means that the pressure sensors used in the floor tiles are highly accurate and the data collected is incredibly detailed. The system can measure temporal, spatial parameters as well as foot floor interactions and plantar pressure distribution.
Stepscan® is a safe and reputable product, registered as a Class I Medical Device with Health Canada, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration.
For users that have opted in, patient gait profiles are collected into a HIPAA-compliant database.