The average life expectancy in humans has considerably increased over the decades with advancements in medical sciences. With rising number of older adults, there has been a considerable increase in instance of chronic diseases, disability and resulting mobility. These adults require assistive devices to be able to perform their routine everyday activities. The activities of daily living can be categorized as instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and personal activities of daily living (PADLs). IADLs refer to activities such as meal preparation, using a telephone, taking medication, traveling away from home and other such activities. PADLs include tasks that are essentially necessary for daily living such as feeding, dressing, bathing, moving or transferring, going to the toilet and other such basic activities. Instrumental activities are more complicated and require domestic or community assistance.
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Assistive devices broaden a patient’s support base, improve stability and balance, and redistribute from lower limbs to alleviate joint pain or compensate for injury or weakness. The primary utility of assistive devices is to improve independent mobility, postpone functional decline, and decrease the burden of care on care givers. The patients who use assistive devices exhibit improved confidence and feeling of safety which leads to independence and increased level of activeness. Different assistive devices are used by geriatrics such as canes, crutches, walkers, rollators, wheelchairs, hearing aids and many such devices. Selection of a suitable device has to be done carefully considering the patient’s endurance, strength, cognitive function, balance and environmental demands. Canes help in redistributing weight from lower extremities that are painful or weak, improve stability and deliver tactile information about surface of the ground in order to improve balance. Crutches assist patients who have to use their arms for bearing weight and propulsion. A walker improves stability in those patients who suffer from weakness in lower extremities or poor balance due to weakness. Clinicians routinely examine and evaluate their patients’ assistive devices in order to ensure proper fit, height, maintenance and they counsel these patients on how to use these devices efficiently.
The key factor driving the growth of elderly and disabled assistive devices market is the increasing incidence of geriatric and disabled population across the world. According to the data revealed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the population of elder people aged 65 years and over stood at 46.2 million in 2014 in the U.S. and this number is poised to more than double to 98 million by 2060. With increase in the average life expectancy due to advancements in technology and medicine, the demand for elderly and disabled assistive devices will witness a steady growth in coming years. However, high cost associated with certain assistive devices such as bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA), cochlear implants, and power wheelchairs have resulted in low adoption rate of these devices.
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Major companies in the global elderly and disabled assistive devices market focus on product innovation and development in order to outgrow their competitors. For instance, in 2015, Med-El received FDA approval for its SYNCHRONY cochlear implant, the first and only cochlear implant approved for 3.0T MRI without magnet removal. Some of the key players operating in this market are Sonova Holdings AG, William Demant Holdings A/S, Invacare Corporation, Sunrise Medical (US) LLC, Blue Chip Medical Products Inc. and Freedom Scientific, Inc.
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