Scientists Tripping Up Elderly On Treadmills
Researchers are tripping up old people in the name of science.
A team at the University of Illinois has created a special walkway designed to make elderly volunteers lose their footing - to work out new ways to stop the old and infirm from falling over.
Falls are the leading cause of injury in the elderly, and devising a way to reduce the number of them could prove to be a major medical breakthrough.
Scientists rigged up volunteers, including 81-year-old Mary Kaye, to overhead cables, to allow them to slip and trip without actually injuring themselves.
They were then placed onto a walkway which - at points - moved suddenly underneath their feet.
Sensors attached to their arms and legs tracked and analysed their movements, and how they responded to the sudden instability.
Physical therapy professor Clive Pai - who is leading the research - says that preliminary research shows that experiencing 24 trips during a walkway session reduces the chances of falling in the following 12 months by up to 50%.
He says it's because older adults can learn to catch themselves, avoiding damaging falls.
The treadmill technique will need several years of study before it is clear whether it works.
(c) Sky News 2014