Lehigh Valley

Allentown company wants to save lives with the "smartbelt"

It operates like an airbag for the hips.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A company based in Allentown has an invention that could save thousands of lives that are lost from falls.

More than 70,000 Americans reportedly die every year from hip fractures, most of them elderly.

An Allentown company called ActiveProtective has invented a belt, that protects hips in the event of a fall.

“We refer to it as a smartbelt,” said CEO Drew Lakatos.

It operates like an airbag.

“It begins looking for accelerations towards the floor that could be injurious and makes the determination to deploy the airbags right before impact,” explained Lakatos.

The story of ActiveProtective began at a Christmas party in 2006 when Lakatos' wife introduced him to the belt's inventor, a trauma surgeon in the Philly region.

The doctor, who was used to treating car accidents and gunshot wounds, had seen a change.

“What he noted was the shift in patients that he sees on his trauma table, and it was older adults falling down and really wrecking themselves,” said Lakatos.

For Lakatos, he knows the truth of that all too well; his grandfather suffered a fall.

“Got up from breakfast one morning, stumbled backwards. Broke his hip and it took his life within 10 days,” recalled Lakatos.

Lakatos went to see his grandfather before he died and they talked about the invention.

He said to me, "Drew, get this done. It really will help a lot of people. That was the last conversation I had with him in the hospital.”

Lakatos has raised more than $10 million and is testing it in senior care centers. He thinks the invention will get to the market in the next year.

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