Many of you who are reading this know that the Apple Watch includes a fall detection feature that has already saved many lives. If the watch senses a hard fall, it will tap your wrist, sound an alarm, and show an alert. By pressing on the “I’m OK” button on the screen, you can dismiss the alert or contact emergency services.
Apple’s new fall-prevention function in iOS 15 has the potential to save your life. If your watch detects that you have not moved in roughly a minute, it will contact emergency services and send messages to your emergency contacts, including your position. The fall detection feature is available to people aged 18 and up, and default enables it for those aged 55 and above.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple has included a new capability to iOS 15 that is aimed to avoid falls rather than detect them, as the Apple Watch does. The iPhone’s Health app will measure various data linked to how you walk. For example, your Walking Asymmetry is measured, and this displays the proportion of times that the steps you take with one foot are faster or slower than the steps you take with the other foot. The smaller the percentage of times this occurs, the better your walking pattern is. Limping can be a sign of sickness, injury, or other health problems.
When your iPhone is around your waist (such as in a pocket) while you are walking on flat ground, it will record this measurement. After a few days of gathering data, it will send you a notification showing if your percentage is OK, low, or very low. The Health app can give you information about your walking steadiness, which will notify a low walking steadiness score.
A low score shows you are in danger of falling in the next year and could benefit from strengthening and balancing exercises; Apple’s Health app includes videos of five such exercises. Walking steadiness is calculated by taking your walking speed, step length, double support time, and walking asymmetry into account.
Steadiness decreases the risk of falling. And steadiness is important because one out of every four Americans 65 and older falls each year, resulting in broken hips and brain injuries. The CDC reports that the rate of death to older Americans from falls increased by 30% from 2007 to 2016. Falling once increases a person’s chances of falling again by a factor of two. While Apple’s Health app videos are a fine place to start, Physical Therapist Jessica Schwartz, a representative for the American Physical Therapy Association, was more measured in her assessment of these exercises.
Dr. Schwartz says that the walking data can help doctors and the rapists understand what is causing a person’s unsteady stride and help them develop specially designed exercises and other treatments. She intends to advise her iPhone clients to update to iOS 15, enable the Walking Steadiness function, and share the results with her. Go to the Health app to enable Walking Steadiness notifications. Scroll down until you find Walking Steadiness Notifications, then tap on Summary.
Set up your account by entering your height, weight, and age. Make sure you have notifications turned on. It will take a few days to gather enough information to send out a notification. You can track your progress by going to the bottom right corner and selecting Mobility > Walking Steadiness.