The Tango Belt, a small inflatable belt, is an intervention that may make a huge difference for older adults who fall. When its electronic device detects movement that is out of the ordinary for an individual the Tango Belt fills up with air, preventing injury by padding the area around a person’s hips. The belt, developed by a Philadelphia area start-up, also works with an app to send a text message.
The prevalance of falls rises with age, and hip fractures are a common result. Not infrequently individuals who fall experience mobility limits for the rest of their lives.
To learn more about the Tango Belt, check out this 2016 TEDMED video, presented by engineer and entrepreneur, Drew Lakatos. I’ve added additional links at the end of this post.
The demonstation of a fall in this video took my breath away, because it illustrates — exactly — how, over the years, elders in my family have fallen.
We all know the drill. We receive a phone call after a fall and need to make several important decisions in a short time, complicated if we live a longer distance away. Sometimes a parent gets up, dusts off, and says nothing is hurting. In that situation we observe for a bit to reassure ourselves that a medical check-up isn’t required. But at other times, clearly something is wrong. Moving one body part or another causes pain, sometimes extreme. Then it’s necessary to call an ambulance and head off to the hospital emergency department, where a doctor can assess whether or not a bone is fractured.
But hospital visits can have deleterious side effects, particularly if the visit is long, and your elderly parent is uncomfortable while waiting or if admitted. Read my post Hospital Induced Delirium: Be Concerned, featuring a June 16, 2019 Washington Post story Harrowing Delirium Afflicts Millions After Surgery, Especially the Elderly. I Know. It Hit Me and It Took Months to Overcome, that describes the after-effects of a hip fracture hospitalization. The Tango Belt overs an intervention that may prevent not only the hospital visit but also the horrible side effect, hospital induced delirium, that can last for months afterwards.
To offer my mom more security when she moves around would be amazing. Here is the Tango Belt FAQ page. Moreover, it looks like the belt is fairly unobtrusive — making it less obvious — a feature that many older elders appreciate. The belt is not available for individual purchases at this point, but sets of 10 are being marketed to caregiving communities (Please notice that I do not use the word facility. It’s a word that elders detest.)
Falls seem to be an intractable part of growing older, and we are bombarded with information about how to prevent them. Here on this blog, I’ve written quite a few posts on the subject. But at some point, for many people, prevention itself does not s provide the answer.
Might the Tango Belt provide them a different way of combatting falls while maintaining an emphasis on prevention? I’d love to try one with my mother.
- What This Philly-area Start-up Won on Richard Branson’s Private Island — Philly.com
Philly Startup Raises $2.6M For ‘Smart Belt’ That Helps Seniors When They Fall — NBC Channel 10 Philadelphia
- These Wearable Airbags Can Prevent Injury in a Fall — Consumer Technology Association
High-tech Belt Uses Air Bags to Protect Seniors from Falls — MemoryWell.com