The prevalence of frailty among people over 65 years old in Spain is 18%, according to data from the Government of Spain in 2021. Frailty is a state of pre-disability, i.e. when signs of vulnerability begin to be detected, such as, for example, reduced walking speed or loss of muscle strength. Its onset is due to a series of changes in the physical, psychological and social dimensions of the person who suffers from it.
The Ministry of Health points out that frailty in people over 65 years of age can be prevented, identified and reversed. Early detection makes it possible to implement interventions to delay the onset of frailty and to ensure that the elderly person enjoys a longer quality of life and greater autonomy and independence. Following this objective, the Chair Cuatroochenta of Artificial Intelligence, Health and Welfare of the Universitat Jaume I and the start-up Kineactiv have initiated a collaboration to develop a digital tool that helps health professionals to detect cases of frailty among the elderly.
3D cameras to assess walking speed
The gait speed test is one of the tests for early detection of frailty, according to The Consensus Document on prevention of frailty and falls in the elderly of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality of 2014. This test consists of asking the person to walk a distance of four meters at their usual walking speed. In the meantime, the seconds it has taken to walk the distance from point to point are timed. The result allows healthcare personnel to interpret the degree of frailty of the person taking the test and to detect the risk of early onset.
Kineactiv, a start-up founded in Teruel and now being accelerated by the Lanzadera incubator, is already using 3D technology. They use it to encourage older people to exercise and thus prevent and reverse the physical health problems associated with ageing. They have developed an elderly-friendly program that allows them to work on physical and cognitive mobility in an independent and simple way, from home.
The availability of a 3D camera system that makes it possible to know the walking speed of a person automatically and anonymously represents a breakthrough in the detection of frailty. Its implementation in social and health centres would improve care for the elderly and help the work of social and health personnel. This technological innovation could be used in health and senior centres, for example in nursing homes and day centres.
The technological devices are expected to be installed soon in the Chair's facilities at the Universitat Jaume I (UJI) in Castelló. With this equipment, research will begin, where professionals in the areas of Psychology, Physiotherapy and Computer Science will work hand in hand to develop innovations in this field.