App measures fear of falling

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.

Administering iconFES

Using iconFES is easy and quick, and the results are available immediately.

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.

Screenshot from iconFES

An example of the iconFES testing environment.


  • I do believe all of the ideas you’ve offered in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for beginners. May you please prolong them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  • searchgoodjokedogs photos

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with helpful info to work on. You’ve done an impressive process and our whole neighborhood might be grateful to you.

  • Anita Spiesschaert

    Proficiat met de realisatie van deze fantastische app. Iedere dokter, kinesist, en ouderverpleegkundigen over de ganse wereld zouden dit moeten aanschaffen.

    • Thanks mum, I hope with you that many clinicians will use this app in their clinical practice. There is growing awareness among health care providers that fear of falling is dysfunctional and many ask their patients about it. We hope that our iconFES will provide clinicians with more detail about the level of fear of falling of their patients in a variety of situations.

  • Delbaere Jo

    Proficiat, dit kan een grote impact hebben op het voorkomen en behandelen van kwetsuren bij ouderen. Hopelijk is de zorgsector er evenzeer van overtuigd. Het zit goed en begrijpelijk in elkaar, nogmaals gefiliciteerd.

    • Thanks dad, our iconFES can be used as part of prevention programs as well. Fear of falling interventions often rely on guided exposure, where an older person practices activities together with someone else first. In order to do this effectively, it will be crucial to identify those activities and different circumstances that concerns people. The iconFES can help clinicians (and researchers) to identify and target the circumstances during which their patient is most concerned about falling.

  • Heeren Francine

    Great achievement Kim !! We are proud to read this and proud to have such a great person in our family (Kim is our nice). We hope that in the future many old people will get access to this app. Available in Belgium too ?
    Francine & Christiaan and Bert from Belgium – xxx
    PS: dit is pas een verrassing hé Kim

    • Thank you for being proud of me. 🙂

      The app should be available all over the world. The app detects the language settings of you iPad and, if available, will translate the iconFES app straight into your language. So far, it is available in 5 languages (English, Dutch, French, German, Brazilian-Portuguese) but we are working hard to make it available in many more languages.

  • How do you interpret the results? That is, do the scores mean anything? High/medium/low falls risk?

    • Dear Simon,
      Thank you for your interest in using our app. We are currently conducting a longitudinal validation study using the iconFES in over 400 people. Cut-points will be defined using data from this study – expected by mid 2013. Users of the app will be notified of these cut-points with an app update notification.
      As for now, the app can be used to identify activities that the older person is concerned of, by clicking on each response category in the “Results Breadkdown” (last page of app).
      Best regards,

      Note: In ‘Settings’ (of your iPad), it is also possible to change the 30-item iconFES to a shortened 10-item iconFES.

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