NUI Galway Trials Innovative Falls Detection System for Elderly Fallers

Pictured (l to r) NUI Galway researchers Mary Rose Mulry (Occupational Therapy and Dean Sweeney (Electronic & Electrical Engineering) who will be working with those interested in taking part in the study on the falls detection system for elderly fallers.
Nov 11 2013 Posted: 11:50 GMT

Project aims to tackle early falls detection both inside and outside the home

NUI Galway is testing a wearable sensor and home wireless network to detect falls in the elderly, as part of a €2.25 million EU project called FATE. The project is actively recruiting participants aged 64 and over to test the system in their own homes.

The FATE system is made up of a highly sensitive, portable fall detector, a wireless home network and a smart phone. The portable fall detector incorporates accelerometers which are capable of running complex falls detection algorithms. Unique features of this system include a bed sensor for night-time monitoring and the ability to monitor falls even outside the home.

The FATE - FAll deTector for the Elderly is an EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) funded project involving 10 partners across Europe including a multidisciplinary team from NUI Galway, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Physiology, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, Gerontology and Podiatry. 

The project aims to test and validate this innovative ICT-based solution to improve the quality of life of the elderly population, both at home and outdoors. Falls in the aging population are a very significant problem, an economic burden for care providers and are associated with significant deterioration in the person’s quality of life often resulting in hospitalisation.

Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway and FATE Principal Investigator for NUI Galway says “one of the key issues with falls in the elderly is the so called “long lie” where fallers remain on the floor for more hour after the fall due to lack of detection. This system has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of undetected falls and drastically improve outcomes after a fall”. 

Dr Leo Quinlan from the Discipline of Physiology, School of Medicine at NUI Galway and project leader for FATE describes the potential impact of the system as very significant and explains “Falls can lead to a restriction in normal activity levels for the older person, due to developing a fear of falling leading to a social isolation and reduced quality of life. This system has the potential to give confidence and security to both the older person and their carers.”

Recruitment for the study is on-going and Mary Rose Mulry (Occupational Therapy) and Dean Sweeney (Electronic & Electrical Engineering, NUI Galway) will visit interested candidates to discuss taking part in the study and what is involved for those that do.

For more information visit

Contact Mary Rose  Mulry 085 815 1871 or  or Dean Sweeney 087 711 7064


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