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Study Investigates Causes of Seniors’ Falls

Researchers studied video of long term care communities to shine a light on the most common reasons seniors fall. The study found that incorrect shifting of body weight caused the most falls among older adults.

Through the course of the study, 227 falls were reported.  For each case, staff members filled out an incident report that highlighted the resident’s activity at the time of the fall and researchers reviewed video footage of the event. Researchers found that 41 percent of falls were caused by incorrect shifting of body weight. Stumbles accounted for 21 percent; hits or bumps, loss of support, and collapse each accounted for 11 percent; and slips accounted for just 3 percent. The activities most associated with falls were walking, which was associated with 24 percent of the falls, followed by standing quietly and sitting down, which were each associated with 13 percent.

The study’s authors believe that their research can help improve the design of sensor-based fall monitoring systems, as well as suggest ways for senior living providers to prevent falls now. For example, 75 percent of the communities’ residents reported using a walker or wheelchair, but only 20 percent of those who fell were using a mobility device at the time.  "That indicates that people are neglecting to use their device, but also many times those falls are occurring in those transition periods ... when someone is going from the walker to sitting down in the dining room or getting up," said lead author Stephen Robinovitch. "So these are very important danger periods that need to somehow be addressed."

Read the NPR article: Loss Of Balance Is Leading Cause Of Elderly Falls. Or read the full study: Video Capture of the Circumstances Of Falls In Elderly People Residing In Long-Term Care: An Observational Study for more information.

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