Taking care of the elderly can be difficult for many healthcare workers, especially when there is a slip and fall situation in which the patient cannot recover on their own power. However in Japan, researchers have introduced a robot on Tuesday that can lift a patient weighing 176 lbs off the floor and onto a wheelchair, relieving caretakers of strain and possibly further injury. Currently in Japan, this task takes place approximately 40 times per day already.

Say hello to RIBA 2, the robot is soft to the touch, moves around on wheels and responds to voice commands. Built with rubber sensors, springs and improved joints at its base and lower back, it can crouch and lift a patient off a Japanese futon, a traditional mat placed on the floor.

Shijie Guo, leader of the Robot Implementation Research Team goes into further detail:

“It can pick a person up from the floor onto a wheelchair or a bed. The earlier robot could only lift 60 kg. It is made of very soft material, of rubber, so it won’t hurt a person. Normally, to crouch and lift require a huge motor, which would give us a huge robot. But with this robot, we used a spring.”

The team is jointly made up of experts from RIKEN, a natural sciences research institute in Japan, and Tokai Rubber Industries. Stocks for Tokai are currently up 2%.

For detailed diagrams and a video of the robot, click HERE.

Here are some quick facts about slip and fall instances in the elderly:

  • The risk of falling increases with age and is greater for women than for men.
  • Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within six months.
  • A decrease in bone density contributes to falls and resultant injuries.
  • Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility.
  • At least one-third of all falls in the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home.
  • The risk of falling increases with age and is greater for women than men.
  • Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people 65 and older.
  • Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or over.
  • Approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year. The elderly account for seventy-five percent of deaths from falls.
  • More than half of all fatal falls involve people 75 or over, only 4 percent of the total population.
  • Among people 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture, and among those 85 or over, one fall in 10 results in a hip fracture.

The causes of falls are known as risk factors. Although no single risk factor causes all falls, the greater the number of risk factors to which an individual is exposed, the greater the probability of a fall and the more likely the results of the fall will threaten the person’s independence.

Many of these risk factors are preventable. As obvious as it may sound, a lack of knowledge about risk factors and how to prevent them contributes to many falls. Some people believe that falls are a normal part of aging, and as such are not preventable. Lack of knowledge leads to lack of preventive action, resulting in falls.

Written by Sy Kraft