By Angela Greenwood

CARMICHAEL (CBS13) — Numbers show 1 in 4 seniors who break their hips die within a year. It’s one of the most common and devastating injuries among the elderly.

Recently, CBS13 profiled a product out of France aimed at breaking those falls. Now, a similar airbag technology is taking shape in the U.S., and it’s being tested out by a group of seniors in Carmichael, and they say they’re happy to be part of the solution.

Being active is a big part of Yen Lu Wong’s life, but at 75 years old, the retired dance professor realizes the risks that come with it.

“Falling could really change our lives,” said Wong.

She is one of about a dozen residents at Eskaton Village Carmichael retirement community helping to soften the blow.

“I like to participate in anything that can help us lead productive lives.”

It’s part of a pilot study working to design, develop and perfect technology to prevent hip fractures during falls and is all contained in a belt. An airbag for your hips.

“The bags deployed so fast, and they come out, and they really surround your hip. they’re not just on the side,” said Eskaton resident Karen Robison.

It’s called Active Protection and is a wearable smart belt, similar to one featured at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, that deploys airbags when a fall is detected.

“It’s something that can be foreseen so why not work to prevent it,” said Robison.

Robison is also participating in the study and says the extra protection brings peace of mind.

“Because if you lose mobility, you lose dignity, you lose so much.”

Eskaton Carmichael partnered with the Pennsylvania-based company three years ago. While there still are some kinks to work out, the wearable airbag is a life-saving step toward preventing injuries that could be life-changing.

The Active Protection belt is said to lessen the impact of a fall by 90 percent. There’s no official date for when it will hit the market, but the hope is to have it available sometime this year.

Comments (11)
  1. Many elderly people fall because their hip breaks.

  2. I thought of inflatable pants many years ago, but I’ll let humanity have this one. You’re welcome.

  3. ploome says:

    the Kardashian look

  4. Customer #1! In May 2016, at 69, I tripped in the landscape, landed butt first on the driveway which resulted in an upper femur fracture. I ended up with a rod/nail implant, which was minor compared to a hip. This devise will be a godsend, especially when you compare it to the $20K cost that I incurred to get repaired.

  5. Brian Maples says:

    This is really only useful if its reusable, can be easily reset by the wearer immediately. Car air bags are one time use. Its neat, but wouldn’t it be cheaper an more effective to cover the floor with gym padding. Very sad that the kids/grandchildren either are not interested or are unable due to work that they cannot care for there elderly parents.

    1. I know someone who fell on their front porch and suffered a hp fracture.

  6. Alex Schmitt says:

    OK. Guess I’ll need to be careful how hard I hug meemaw now!

  7. Bob Salter says:

    Doctor Carl Clarke was working on this over 30 years ago. He is really one of the fathers of the airbag from the Gemini space program. I met him at the DOT in the mid 80’s and he described this exact product over lunch.

  8. I’m more afraid of falling in the shower than any other place. An airbag wouldn’t be much help while taking a shower.

    1. I always place a washcloth in the tub to stand on. The friction it creates is far superior to any manufactured/marketed non-slip material. Try it, you’ll be surprised at how well it works. Then pass the info along.

  9. When I was being trained as an Emergency Medical Technician, we were informed that many hip fractures in the elderly are spontaneous and cause the fall, and not being broken as a result of having fallen.

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