Background and objectives: Elderly patients unable to get up after a fall or to activate an alarm mechanism are particularly at risk of complications and need to be monitored with extreme care. The different risk factors have fostered the development of stand-alone devices facilitating early detection of falls. We aimed at assessing performance of the Vigi'Fall(®) system, a cutting edge fall detector associating a "passive release" mechanism attached to the patient and including external sensors; in the event of a fall, the system automatically triggers an alarm, and it also incorporates embedded confirmation software. We have put it to the test under real-life conditions so as to evaluate not only its efficacy, but also and more particularly its acceptability and tolerability in elderly subjects.
Method: The study ran from March 2007 through December 2008 in a geriatric ward with 10 subjects over 75 years of age, all of whom presented with a risk of falling.
Results: For eight patients wearing an accelerometric sensor, eight "falling" events and 30 "alarm release" events were recorded. Sensitivity and specificity of the device came to 62.5 and 99.5% respectively. For the two patients wearing the complete device, no events were detected. Not a single adverse occurrence was noted. Local tolerance was excellent in all but one of the subjects.
Conclusion: Our results clearly show that the device may be worn by patients without discomfort over prolonged periods of time, and also demonstrate that the verification component will help to increase sensitivity in real-life conditions to a level comparable to the level attained in our laboratory studies.
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