According to World Health Organization, more than 37 million people each year require medical attention due to a fall, which can lead to more serious health conditions and a loss of independence for the affected individual.
To tackle this issue, Apple has expanded its Mobility Metrics section in its Health app in iOS 15 and launched a new feature called “Walking Steadiness score” and a related notification.
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The Walking Steadiness feature on the iPhone is an industry first, providing insight into fall risk by capturing important mobility data as users walk with their iPhones.
Since iOS 15 also introduced the concept of Health sharing, a feature that you can use to monitor the health of your loved ones, one could use it to monitor the walking steadiness score of an older adult in the family to mitigate risks associated with falling.
The new Walking Steadiness feature is helpful to the user and especially insightful for primary caregivers of folks who are prone to accidental falling due to health reasons.
How to set up walking steadiness score and notification feature in iOS 15
Setting up and using this feature is fairly easy with the iOS 15 Health app.
- Start by launching the Health App on your iPhone running iOS 15
- Scroll down and locate “Walking Steadiness Notifications” and tap on ‘Set up to begin
- Alternatively, you can tap on Browse > Mobility > and scroll down and click on ‘Set Up’ walking Steadiness Notifications to begin this process.
- The Setup process is easy and starts with confirming your basic health data such as sex, age, weight, and height. ( Required for estimating a person’s walking steadiness score)
- The next setup screen helps you turn on the notifications for walking steadiness.
- By Turning On the notifications, you will be alerted when your walking steadiness score is low or very low.
- You can add the Notifications /score to your favorites so that it shows up in the main screen
Interpreting Walking Steadiness Level scores in Apple Health
Apple provides three labels for this metric. These are:
- OK, meaning you do not have a risk of falling in the next 12 months
- Low, meaning you are at an increased risk of falling in the next 12 months and
- Very Low, suggesting that your walking is precarious and you have a high risk of falling within the next 12 months.
During the Walking Steadiness setup process, you can turn on notifications to alert you when this score becomes low or very low. It is important to keep in mind that these notifications mean that you’re more likely to fall overall, not that you’re about to fall in that moment.
Walking Steadiness measurements are taken over the course of seven days. This is an important detail. If your score is low and you start performing some of the suggested exercises, you can monitor changes to your walking steadiness score every week.
Walking Steadiness Score Low or very Low?
As per Apple, the low or very low walking steadiness score notifications mean that you’re more likely to fall overall, not that you’re about to fall in that moment.
That being said, Apple provides the following resources that a user can leverage to improve their score.
- Tap on ‘Browse’ at the bottom of the Health screen
- Next, tap on Mobility and scroll down till you locate ‘Exercises That May Improve Walking Steadiness.’
- Tap on it and scroll down, and you will find a series of exercises that will help improve this score.
- Improving this requires the following exercises as outlined by Apple in this section.
- Sit to Stand exercise and Calf Raises to increase strength
- Hip Abduction and Heel-Toe Walking for increasing Balance
- Walking exercises
Users can also download a PDF and print more details about these exercises from this screen. Please spend some time reading through the exercise guidelines and the safety precautions before trying out these exercises.
The main takeaway is that if your walking steadiness score is low or very low, you can use these exercises to improve your score and discuss it with a healthcare professional or your primary caregiver so that they are equally aware of the fall risk.
You can learn more about the new Health features that Apple unveiled with iOS 15 by clicking on Apple’s announcement.