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YOUR HEALTH: A simple scale could help stop one of the biggest risks to seniors

A NASA researcher used her personal experience to create a scale that measures your risk of falling.

HOUSTON, Texas – One scientist says she's found a way to give people an early warning that could help prevent nasty falls.

It's a bathroom scale that can measure someone's risk of falling.

it all began as one researcher was shooting for the moon.

It's called the Zibrio Scale.

Katharine Forth was a postdoctoral fellow at NASA when she created an algorithm to test the balance of astronauts.

"You have these lofty goals, you work towards them and then suddenly you have this miraculous invention."

But her focus changed from outer space because of someone close to home.

Her grandmother was 86 years old when she lost her balance and fell down the stairs.

"And it was just so painful and sad to watch such an athletic, capable person suddenly be reduced to using a walker being in a wheelchair and being in hospital with a broken hip," said Forth.

Forth realized that by quantifying someone's balance, her algorithm could prevent falls like her grandmother's.

"It's sort of hidden data about yourself that is so important," said Andrea Case-Rogers. Chief Executive Officer with Zibrio: The Balance Company.

All someone has to do is stand on the scale for one minute.

Then the Zibrio app will score their balance on a scale of one to ten.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:    One to three is poor and means a high risk of falling.   Any score above seven equals good balance.   The SmartScale also comes with an app called Balance Coach.   It takes into account your last fall, weight, and guides you to new habits to help your improve your score.   The app will be available for both Android and Apple users.

Trauma surgeon John Holcomb says this could be a game changer to keep patients out of the emergency room.

"The number one cause of admission into trauma centers across the United States and in every western country around the world are falls," said Dr. Holcombe of UT Houston.

For Katharine Forth, it's a chance to protect those you love most.

"I just wanted to help lots of people out there so that this didn't happen again because falling is preventable.

The Zibrio Smart Scale will be commercially available this summer.

The creators hope that checking someone`s "fall risk" will become a standard part of doctors visits.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.