SWORD Care: a program to help the elderly prevent falls

September 24, 2019
1 min read
SWORD Care Helps the Elderly Prevent Falls

Falls are responsible for up to 30% of both fatal and non-fatal injury, as well as for 10 to 15% of all emergency department episodes in older adults. Falls represent major expenditures in healthcare, with direct medical costs were estimated at 38 billion dollars in 2013 in the USA.

Clinical evidence favors well-designed exercise programs in the prevention of falls. Most of these programs are costly and heavily dependent on specialized human resources - the therapists.

Currently, there are no satisfactory solutions: those that exist are either costly and complex or lacking enough clinical validation.

Capitalizing on our experience, we developed a solution for these problems. Through the SWORD Care project we developed high-quality exercise programs specifically designed for falls prevention.

SWORD Care is an integrated, engaging, efficient and cost-effective approach to falls prevention, including both diagnostic and therapeutic tools. It includes automated assessment tools overcoming the dependence on subjective and time-consuming scales.

SWORD Care was developed in a two-year period, under a project co-financed by the Programa Operacional Norte 2020 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It was tested in a Porto based facility with patients typically in the falls risk group, through a total of 1130 sessions performed adding up to more than 10h30 of treatment per patient during the 6 months of testing period. SWORD Care’s results were measured by a multi-dimensional characterization of participants' functional status:

  • Timed up and Go Test (TUG) 32% improvement
  • Five Times Sit to Stand Test (5xSST) 25% improvement
  • Berg’s Balance Scale (BBS) 56% improvement
  • Short Falls Efficacy Scale- International (FES-I) 34% improvement

Patients reported 10 out of 10 satisfaction and provide very positive feedback:

"I can move my arms and legs better and do chores that used to bother me. Now that I know how to use it, I'm perfectly capable of performing the sessions on my own. I'm very satisfied, I really like this." J. Godinho, 81 years-old

"I would never do any of this, there are things I do here I would never have done in my life! It helps me throughout my day, my joints feel less rusty, I can move a lot better. The pain is gone and so is my instability." A. Veríssimo, 79 years-old

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