Repeated falls not only increases the risk of injury and hospitalization but may be catastrophic to an older individual. It is because these people are frail and mostly have osteoporosis. It is estimated that over 50% of these falls result in an injury. The major injuries are fractures and head injuries.24 Jan 2020
University of Rochester Medical Center
For Elderly, Even Short Falls can be Deadly
Nov. 1, 2010
Julius Cheng, M.D., M.P.H.
Adults 70-Plus Three Times as Likely to Die Following Low-Level Falls
While simple falls, such as slipping while walking off a curb, may seem relatively harmless, they can actually lead to severe injury and death in elderly individuals, according to a new study published in The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. As the population continues to age, it is important for physicians and caregivers to be aware of and prepared to deal with this issue, which could significantly impact the overall health and wellbeing of older adults.
In contrast to falls from greater heights, ground-level falls – essentially falls from a standing position, with feet touching the ground prior to the fall – have traditionally been considered minor injuries. But, the new study found elderly adults – 70 years or older – who experience ground-level falls are much more likely to be severely injured and less likely to survive their injuries compared to adults younger than 70 years. Elderly patients are three times as likely to die following a ground-level fall compared to their under-70 counterparts.
Trauma surgeon and researcher Julius Cheng, M.D., M.P.H, conducted the largest analysis to date of trauma patients experiencing ground-level falls. His team identified 57,302 patients with ground-level falls from 2001 through 2005 using the National Trauma Data Bank and analyzed demographics, type and severity of injuries and final outcomes.
“There is the potential to minimize what people see as a relatively trivial issue, such as slipping and falling on a wet tile floor. Our research shows that falls from low levels shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of how bad they can be, especially in older patients,” said Cheng, associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead author of the new study.
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