According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the next 30 years the world’s population aged 60+ years is expected to be as high as 2 billion, growing up from 900 million in 2015; although the benefits of a longer life span are undisputable, it is of utmost importance that these are experienced with as much good health, functionality, and quality of life as possible. Loss of intrinsic capacity is a common health condition associated with ageing, which leads older adults to require significant help from others, and the rapid increase in population with functional decline introduces significant pressure on current social and healthcare structures, due to the escalating costs and demand for their services.
As in most health conditions, early identification and monitoring of decline is key to a better management, also contributing to prevention when possible. However, existing technologies focus on the detection of symptoms of frailty and dependency, thus putting a diagnosis at the moment that frailty or its consequences are a fact. Our consortium aims to avoid this and to develop a system capable of assessing the capacity to recruit reserves available both in persons with and without frailty, acting as an early warning system.
The project aims at delivering a proof of concept for the smartphone-based FORTO (Fatigability Outcomes to monitor Resilience Targets in Older persons) system to monitor, in free, living conditions related with muscle fatigability as an ecological and dynamic marker of an older person’s physical reserve capacity and resilience. This prototype system will allow self-assessment of muscle fatigability by measuring the maximum force elderly people can apply and sustain until their handgrip strength drops to 50% of its maximum. Professional follow up is realized remotely through an app using the smartphone of the elderly person, which at the same time makes the system price effective and very user friendly.
The main outputs are the prototype system, its validation and a set of reliability and feasibility data obtained during study on cohorts of elderly people across different relevant contexts: community-dwelling older persons as well as geriatric and hip fracture patients in the acute (inpatient) and rehabilitation phase. In order to indicate the exploitation potential of the system a business case will be developed showing the unique selling points of the system, the potential market, different commercialization scenarios and marketing possibilities. Ample dissemination of results is also envisioned involving policy makers, industry, and the general public.
The partners in the consortium cover the required expertise and are highly complementary. Research partners ensure the development of the system, which will be the result of the advantages detected in earlier developed prototypes. Hospitals are on board for testing in real life and validation with end-users. Companies will ensure the development and establishment of the cloud-based components of the system, defining the business plan, mapping and analysing the potential market.