Last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine ran their annual “Year in Ideas” feature.
The cover showed the iconic photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out at the camera, suggesting that not all ideas are equally great. For example the Dog Feces DNA Test Squad can discover who isn’t picking up after their pets, (assuming you have a DNA data base for the neighborhood dogs, and assuming you care enough to collect the various perpetrators’ poop samples for testing…)
One that caught my eye was the latest in hip fracture prevention from the Japanese company Prop:
This vest / fanny pack unit has motion sensors that cause air bags to inflate in 1/10 second when a fall is detected, in an effort to protect the neck and hips.
Dr. Mary Tinetti was a neighbor of mine during our post-graduate years in Rochester, and no doubt used her observations of our house parties to become a leading expert in falls at Yale. She reminded the Times that many people have rejected hip pads in the past, due to their aesthetic appearance, (as in “Honey, does this inflatable vest make me look fat?”). She also cautioned that the resulting ‘bounce’ might be as harmful to frail bones as the fall itself.
Other concerns that occur to me are whether accidental mis-firings occur, if the airbags need to be “re-charged”, and how practical that would be in a person who falls frequently. This contraption retails for $1400.
Keep working at it guys, but meanwhile, keep in mind that falls are usually a symptom of a variety of underlying factors. Identifying and treating these risk factors remains the key to prevention. Even more important is to convince all those young women who drink diet soda in the school cafeteria that they are in a critical phase of bone modeling. Otherwise, we’ll need to buy millions of these suckers in the coming decades!
I’ll close with the trailer for Woody Allen’s “Sleeper”, which devised the very first “fracture prevention outfit”: