Close-up photo of the device attached to a standard cane

Advancement of Cane Technology: Modular Attachments to Create Intelligent Canes that Aid in Fall Prevention

Caltech Mechanical and Civil Engineering

Maegan Tucker and Sandra Liu

Many people struggle with balance as a result of strokes, aging, and neurological
disorders. Currently, canes are one of the least technological yet most widely used
assistive devices. We strongly believe that through the use of emerging technology,
canes can be improved to be intelligent and more effective towards fall prevention.
Since canes currently have a wide variety of styles, our cane technology was made to
be modular, so that it can be used in addition to any existing cane. The modular device
we are developing uses an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), a vibration motor, and a
microprocessor to alert the user of when the cane becomes unbalanced. This device
could either be used daily by the user, or it could be used by physical therapists to train
new patients on how to safely use a cane. Future directions with the device also
include implementing modules to help prevent freezing episodes, which are sudden
blocks of movement that occur during walking. Additionally, future iterations will include
a small LED light that automatically illuminates when the cane is used at night.
Ultimately, a modular device that creates an “intelligent cane” would be low cost and
widely available to bring technology to cane users.

RESNA Design Brief

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