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Elderly falls in clinical care facilities are common


Fall accidents are common in elderly individuals, who are in long-term, clinical care facilities. Among them, more than one-third individuals hit their heads, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


The study researchers analyzed the CCTV video footage obtained from various hospitals. In long term care facilities, out of 227 falls suffered by 133 elderly individuals, about 37% head injuries were observed. In about 63% of cases, elderly people struck their head on the hard floors such as linoleum or tile. About 16% and 13% individuals hit their head on furniture and walls, respectively.


The incidence rate of head impact accidents is alarming in elderly, said Dr. Stephen Robinovitch at Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. However, such problems are relatively uncommon among young people, he added.


When compared to backward falls, the risk of head impact was higher in forward fall cases. The attempts to use the hand to break falls were found to be ineffective, the authors wrote in the publication.


The researchers could not identify the potential cause of hand’s ineffectiveness in halting downward movement and preventing head impacts. However, non-optimal muscle tone, ineffective arm placement and lack of strength in trunk, upper-limb and neck muscle could be the causatives. Such causes can be reduced by resistance training, the authors noted. 


The present study can improve several problems including diagnosis of possible brain injuries due to falls among long term clinical care patients and physical exercises to strengthen upper limbs.


The authors suggested that creating safer hospital environments such as adding soft flooring sub-layers similar to cushion. Such protections can prevent the fall impacts. However, caution should be exercised to avoid more soft floorings which can impair the balance.

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