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by Adam Brown  BScPT, MClScPT
updated April 16, 2024


Despite living in one of the most technologically advanced parts of the world, Canadians have still made little impact on injury rates from preventable causes. Injury rates from falls, auto accidents, workplace accidents and sport and recreation are all on the rise. This has an enormous economic (estimated at over $20 Billion) and quality of life impact on Canadians.

Numerous technological advancements have the potential to significantly reduce injuries in humans, Will they come to fruition, or will they disappoint? Let’s have a look at some of the more promising technology being developed to help keep people safe..

 

Advanced Safety Systems in Vehicles

Modern vehicle safety technologies such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and advanced airbag systems can prevent accidents and reduce the severity of injuries when accidents occur. According to Transport Canada the number of fatalities and the number of injuries from auto accidents in Canada has been increasing. We have heard big promises about self-driving cars having a dramatic impact on these statistics, but technological and regulatory hurdles persist. There is reason to be hopeful. With each passing year new automobiles are able to do more and computing technology is accelerating at a dizzying rate. Imagine what the advantage will be when the “driver” of every car can pay attention to what is happening in every direction simultaneously, all while having no risk of nodding off at the wheel.

 

Telemedicine and Wearable Devices

Telemedicine platforms allow individuals to consult with healthcare professionals remotely, enabling quicker access to medical advice and reducing the need for physical travel, especially in emergencies. Wearable devices like smartwatches can monitor vital signs, detect falls, and alert emergency services or caregivers in case of accidents, particularly beneficial for the elderly. At Cornerstone we have seen how powerful a tool modern wearables can be to manage Long COVID and other chronic conditions. I am hopeful that as wearable technology improves, they will become a reliable monitor detecting patterns that indicate the potential of disease or injury earlier than our current standard of care.

 

Robotic Exoskeletons

Robotic exoskeletons are wearable devices designed to support and enhance the body’s movements. They have applications in healthcare and industrial sectors, assisting people with mobility impairments and reducing the risk of injuries in jobs that involve heavy lifting or repetitive movements. The workplace can be a dangerous place. Especially if your job involves heavy lifting or use of heavy machinery. Augmenting human abilities is an area that hold great potential to reduce injury rates.

 

Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics

Machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics are being paired with sensors and wearable tech to analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and predict potential risks. In healthcare, these technologies can be used to predict patient falls, enabling healthcare providers to take preventive measures.

 

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR and AR technologies are used for training purposes, especially in high-risk professions such as surgery and military operations. VR simulations allow individuals to practice complex and dangerous tasks in a safe environment, reducing the risk of injuries during real-life situations. As this technology becomes more common, it will be expanded to other industries. Inexperience is a significant risk factor. Improved training in a safe and monitored environment has great potential.

 

Safety Drones/Robots

Drones and robotics equipped with cameras and sensors are used in various industries for safety inspections. They can access hard-to-reach or hazardous areas, reducing the risk of injury to human workers.

 

Genetic Testing and Personalized Medicine

Genetic testing can identify individuals’ predispositions to certain medical conditions, allowing for personalized preventive measures and early interventions, which can reduce the risk of injuries related to genetic factors.

 

It’s important to note that while these technologies hold great promise, their widespread adoption and effectiveness depend on factors such as accessibility, affordability, ethical considerations, and regulatory approvals. Ongoing research and collaboration between technology developers, healthcare professionals, and regulatory bodies are crucial for maximizing the benefits of these advancements in injury prevention. In North America our recent track record on injury prevention is abysmal. But these developments hold promise of a brighter future. Let’s hope at least a few make it to widespread adoption.

About the author

Adam Brown

Co-founder, Physiotherapist Learn More about Adam Brown

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