In order for health care to move forward it is crucial to provide health professionals with up-to-date knowledge and resources to assist their clinical work. With this motivation in mind, we’ve developed iconFES – a new app for the Apple iPad that assesses fear of falling in older adults. Fear of falling is very common in older adults and can have a substantial impact on a person’s quality of life. In order to appropriately develop proper falls prevention strategies, it is crucial to know a person’s level of fear of falling in different circumstances relative to their fall risk.
Many instruments are available to measure fear of falling in older adults, but iconFES is the first to use pictures showing a range of daily activities. The addition of pictures along with verbal phrases helps ensure all participants are envisaging the same situation when they answer the question in relation to their fear of falling.
The transformation of our work into an app will allow us to disseminate our knowledge and tools to more and more people around the world. The app is currently available in English, français, Deutsch, Nederlands and português brasileiro, and will soon be available in 8 other languages including italiano, ภาษาไทย, 简体中文 and Español).
iconFES gives clinicians the opportunity for the results to be interpreted and shared with patients immediately.
We set the price of iconFES low and not-for-profit to expand our professional reach as much as possible. At the end of the day our main driver is to encourage clinicians to assess fear of falling more regularly in older patients.
Our initial validation study results were very promising, but it is important for these study findings to be confirmed in an external sample and clinical groups. From a research point-of-view, the app will assure highly reliable data as data is entered once by the subject and is saved verbatim for later analyses. We will also plan to make normative values available as further feedback to clinicians using iconFES.
So far, older adults – regardless of whether they are tech-savvy or not – have been enjoying ‘having a go’ with the Apple iPad. The large, vibrant screen makes the pictures more visible and the questions easier (and fun) to answer.
iconFES is available from the iTunes store.
Dr Kim Delbaere is a research group leader at NeuRA and an emerging leading international researcher in the area of falls in older people.
Thomas Davies is a Research Assistant with the Delbaere and Lord groups at NeuRA.