Thinking ahead project 3
Saving Silver – Hip protection for elderly people.

The third Thinking ahead project is by design student Line Sandborgh. She wanted to work for the improvement of the quality of life of elderly people and after a short research she came across the problem of hip joint injuries.

What is it about?

Physical injuries among seniors are a serious matter, as with the increase in age the treatment is ever more complicated, and the consequences can be detrimental to the overall well-being, which does not include only physical health, but also personal autonomy and sociality. In addition to affecting the sufferers, these injuries impact the overall medical and social costs. The new research has found the leading cause of injuries are diverse fall accidents common among elderly that often find it hard to steadily readjust to their overall mobility problems and increasingly unstable gaits. Rather than focusing on treatment of already ensued injuries, Line Sandborgh has focused on developing an aid that would help prevent the most dangerous and common injury.

Photograph © Michael Coghlan
Photograph © Michael Coghlan

Who is at the highest risk?

Falling and loosing balance is the most common cause of injuries and it does not only happen outside on slippery surfaces, challenging staircases or during sport activities. It, likewise, happens inside of the homes, while performing mundane tasks that seem safe, such as getting out of the bed or standing up.

Women are at 1.5 times greater risk due to the weaker muscle structure, weaker lower body and the fact that they generally perform less physical activity throughout their life-course. One additional cause is of psychological nature and it is the increased caution and fearfulness when it comes to walking steadily.

Fractures are the most common consequences

Unfortunately, fractures are the most common consequences of fall injuries, and 10-20 percent of injuries are serious. Again, women are at 2.2 times greater risk than men. Especially prominent are hip fractures, which are most dangerous. An alarming 50 percent of patients face death within 6 months after being injured. Even when not leading to death the consequences are detrimental to the overall well-being and include loss of autonomy, social hindrance, heart failure, blood cloths and urinary difficulties. They are in general very difficult to heal.

What do the users want?

When coming up with the design of the product Line Sandborgh included many important aspects a new product should have taking in consideration both its functionality, but most importantly the wishes of the senior consumers. The general problem with already existing walking aids, believed to help decrease the risk of falling such as canes and rollator-walkers is that they are associated with vulnerability and old-age that are both stigmatized. So, the new product should decrease the risk of falling, but most importantly enhance the confidence of the users and aid their autonomy, rather than hinder it. Majority of the seniors claimed that they would go for something modern looking than aids that make them feel old.

Line`s solution

Having in mind the aims the product should fulfill and these are:

  1. Minimizing risk of fracture
  2. Comfortable to wear and use
  3. Looking subtle and good
  4. Versatility
  5. Offering confidence and decreasing fear of falling

Line has identified three areas of potential for developing the perfect design.

After careful consideration and research, she has excluded the first two groups of solutions. The first one would be too technical and complicated for the seniors. The biggest drawback of the second type is the difficulty for elders who have already decreased mobility to put it on and manage it.

A belt with protective inlays

She has, therefore, chosen to focus on designing a vest with protective impact material placed in pockets tightly hugging the hips. The material “Armourgel” is initially soft which makes it comfortable. It stiffens only upon impact, protecting the vulnerable area of the body. In addition to being comfortable the vest is looking subtle crossing off the stigmatizing effect many aids have.

However, to make it even more easy to wear and accessible Line chose to construct it as a belt with paddings on the side. Firstly, the belt allows its users to have it constantly on, without hindering their use of bathroom. Secondly, it is completely hidden under the clothing and contrary to the vest it allows its users to dress in accordance to their style as the vest would have to be worn constantly and minimize the versatility of clothing choices.

The belt was made from wicking material, a mixture of polyester, elastane and spandex a breathable material which does not enhance heat and hinders needless sweating. Additionally, the material is expandable which means it can fit different body types. Lastly, it is very durable, which makes for a product that is cost-effective. On the inside there is non-slip rubber which allows for the belt to fit to the skin and not slide down, which is crucial for the “Armourgel” padding to stay in place covering the hip area. The belt is adjustable to different sized and it is closed by high quality velcro.

The finalized design

The Saving Silver hip protection belt both improves posture, crucial for stabile gait and directly protects the hip area. However, it stays hidden and discrete which offers much more confidence than a walking aid would. Therefore, it is at the same time an immediate and long-term solution, perfect for preventing accidents and ensuing injuries. With its sporty and modern look, it answers the needs of consumers perfectly.

The concept is proven to work perfectly with some minor detail adjustments that will ensue to meet all the goals Line has set to herself. The improvements will target the material with the goal to make it water-proof, so the waist brace could be used under the shower making it a complete all-rounder.

Thanks to Line for her great ideas and this professional design study.

If you like this concept or single aspects of it, or if you think we should continue working on it, please let us know. We look forward to receiving your feedback at or via the e-mail button below.

Thinking Ahead Project 5 | Reducing medical waste.
Thinking ahead project 2
ARCO Stationary patient bedside table of the future
Avatar photo

Line Sandborgh

Line is a design student and was an intern for half a year in Munich. She is always open to any field within design, as long as it's meaningful and fun.

Originally written by Line Sandborgh, 17. February 2019. Last updated 13. January 2023


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