Falling seniors at risk for head injuries: study

Burnaby, British Columbia – Falls among elderly people in long-term care facilities often result in head injuries, according to a study from Simon Fraser University.

Researchers examined video footage of 227 falls among 133 seniors at two-long term care facilities. Seniors hit their head in 37 percent of the falls, with the surface usually being a vinyl or linoleum floor. Head impact was more likely if the person fell forward. Conversely, falling backward was found to decrease the chance of head injury. In 74 percent of falls, the seniors’ hands made contact with the fall surface, but this did not reduce the chance of head impact, the study abstract states.

To help avoid head injuries in falls, researchers suggested seniors perform upper-limb strengthening exercises and learn rotational falling techniques, which are used in martial arts.

The study was published online Oct. 7 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.