Every year, one in three people aged over 65 suffer a fall – now a special shoe insole is aiming to drastically cut that number.
The insoles are the brainchild of Victoria University researcher Dr Hanatsu Nagano who developed them as part of his PhD over nearly a decade after two of his grandparents in Japan had serious falls.
“I wanted to make a social contribution to this very big problem by offering a product that is affordable, and can be easily made and used,” he said.
A recent six-month trial found nearly 40 elderly people wearing the insoles did not fall at all. And only one of 12 insole-wearing hospital patients had a fall over a four-month period compared to three falls for a control group who were not wearing them.
So how do they work?
The insoles are designed with a forefront that helps to raise the minimum toe clearance – the cause of over 50 per cent of falls.
They also feature a series of raised bumps that follow a foot’s ideal centre of pressure to help with side-to-side balance and a shock-absorbing contoured heel.
A successful result
Trials in Japan have shown the insoles dramatically reduced falls among the elderly, as well as with trip-prone hospital patients with conditions such as dementia, osteoarthritis, or knee surgery.
Dr Nagano estimates that the insoles could save 36.5 billion Yen (AUD$500 million) in medical costs in Japan for every one per cent decrease in incidents of falls.
With Australia’s over-65 population set to jump to 25 per cent by 2050, imagine what they could do here.
The insoles will be available here by the end of the year and will retail for around $170 at pharmacies and speciality shoe stores.