Stephen T Mcfadden



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Recently, the idea of a “fall vaccine” has been studied as a way to proactively rehabilitate and possibly prevent falls for older adults. Previous work has shown that the effects created by a slip trainer, which is a device designed to recreate a falling situation safely in order to train a patient’s reflexes, carried over for more than a year, leading to a reduction in falls. However, the facilities to perform this kind of training are only accessible in certain labs and the equipment therein is also extremely expensive, so not many doctor’s offices or local therapy centers could afford to purchase such devices. There is therefore a need to design a reduced cost and more accessible slip trainer which functions analogously to the current lab setups. Mass Rehab Inc. has already developed a prototype of a manual slip trainer. Considering the manual nature of this prototype, the consistency and assessment capabilities of that slip trainer are limited. In addition, an effective slip trainer needs to have the capability to provide a consistent and repeatable slip depending on the heights, weights, and abilities of the patient. The objective of this study is to modify this existing slip trainer into a low tech, mechanically controlled device which allows for repeatable slips and reliable assessment of a patient’s abilities. Other aspects of our research are to gain an understanding of the relationship between the magnitude of the slip and the weight on the board to maximize the effectiveness of the slip trainer, to define an acceleration threshold for a reactive step, and to study the recovery strategies we might observe patients utilizing in reaction to a sudden slip.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis - Undergraduate

Primary Advisor

Kimberly E. Bigelow

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium project

Design and Protocol for the Utilization and Setup of a Low-Cost Slip Trainer for Fall Prevention