-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- When seniors in long-term
care facilities fall, more than a third hit their heads, a new
Researchers analyzed video footage of 227 falls suffered by 133
seniors in a long-term care facility and found that they struck
their heads in 37 percent of the incidents. People hit their head
on the floor in 63 percent of such cases, most often striking hard
flooring, such as tile or linoleum. Sixteen percent struck their
head on furniture and 13 percent hit their head on a wall.
The finding that head impact occurred in that many falls is
alarming, said study author Stephen Robinovitch, of Simon Fraser
University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and colleagues. He noted
that young people rarely strike their head when they fall.
The study was published Oct. 7 in the
CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The risk for head impact was much higher for forward falls than
for backward falls, and attempts to use the arms to break falls
were ineffective, according to a journal news release.
"Although we cannot identify why hand impact was generally ineffective in halting downward movement and preventing head impact, likely causes include ineffective arm placement; non-optimal muscle tone or muscle activation at impact; and insufficient strength in upper-limb, neck and trunk muscles, which is amenable to improvement through resistance training," the researchers wrote.
They said their findings suggest a number of areas for
improvement, including better procedures to detect possible brain
injuries due to falls in long-term care residents and exercises to
strengthen upper limbs.
Creating a safer environment is another suggestion -- such as
adding a flooring sub-layer that is soft enough to cushion the
impact but not so soft that it impairs balance.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
older adults and falls.
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