Health Watch: Smart Scale Prevents Falls

Could you or a loved one be at risk of falling? According to the CDC, falling is the number one cause of accidental death in people over the age of 65. But now one scientist says she's found a way to change that. Her company invented a bathroom scale that can measure someone's risk of falling. And it all began as this researcher was shooting for the moon.

The Zibrio scale began here. Katharine Forth was a postdoctoral fellow at NASA when she created an algorithm to test the balance of astronauts.

Katharine Forth, PhD, Creator of Zibrio Smartscale at TMCx Houston said, "You have these lofty goals, you work towards them and then suddenly you have this miraculous invention."

But her focus changed from outer space because of someone close to home. Her grandmother was 86 years old when she lost her balance and fell down the stairs.

Forth shared, "It was just so painful and sad to watch such an athletic, capable person suddenly be reduced to using a walker, being in a wheelchair and being in hospital with a broken hip."

Forth realized that by quantifying someone's balance, her algorithm could prevent falls like her grandmother's.

"It's sort of hidden data about yourself that is so important," said Andrea Case-Rogers, CXO, from Zibrio: The Balance Company, TMCx Houston.

All someone has to do is stand on the scale for one minute. Then the Zibrio app will score their balance on a scale of one to ten.

Trauma surgeon John Holcomb, MD, from UT Houston says this could be a game changer to keep patients out of the emergency room.

Dr. Holcomb said, "The number one cause of admission into trauma centers across the United States and in every western country around the world are falls. Falls."

For Forth, it's a chance to protect those you love most.

She explained, "I just wanted to help lots of people out there so that this didn't happen again because falling is preventable."

The Zibrio smart scale will be commercially available this summer. The creators hope that checking someone's "fall risk" will become a standard part of doctors' visits.