World-first Fabric Could Stop Elderly Falling from Beds

Picture: 9NEWS (9news)

Picture: 9NEWS (9news)

Melbourne researchers have unveiled breakthrough technology that will help prevent elderly people suffering nasty falls.

Researchers from RMIT have spent the past five years developing a silicone fabric dotted in thousands of sensors, that will be used to monitor sleep.

The breakthrough fabric uses silicone rubber technology, and contains thousands of sensors. Picture: 9NEWS (9news)

The fabric could be weaved into bedding, like mattress protectors, with the sensors reading whether or not a person is in bed.

“We’re not attaching anything to the skin… that would normally be done through attachments to the body,” Cameron Van Den Dungen, of Sleeptite, told 9NEWS.

When elderly patients go to bed, nursing staff want to be able to know what's going on, without interrupting patient’s sleep.

It's hoped the new technology will help nursing home staff during night shift. Picture: 9NEWS (9news)

For instance, if a patient has dementia they may leave the bed, while others may need their heart rate monitored through the night.

In addition to determining whether someone has left the bed or not, the end goal is to be able to monitor breathing, and heart rates.

“For example, if you’ve got a carer with ten beds under their control – we’ll be able to alert them to any potential issues in a certain room which means they can be most efficient with their time,” Mr Van Den Dungen said.

The federal government has invested $1.7 million with hopes it could extend beyond helping the elderly.

The team said it has the potential to be applied to newborns, and used in cots in a bid to prevent SIDS.

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Sheida Danai