Wednesday, October 17, 2012

70% of falls in elderly shown to be incorrect weight shifting

Another great reason to practice Tai Chi!

"TORONTO - Falls among seniors are a major cause of disability and death, but knowing what led to a split-second fall can often be difficult to figure out after a person is found sprawled on the ground.
So researchers used strategically placed video cameras in long-term care facilities to capture spills among residents so they could analyze the mechanics of various falls, with the goal of improving prevention.
"We've known for a long time that falls are the number 1 cause of injury in older adults, including 90 per cent of hip fractures and 60 per cent of head injuries. They're also the number 1 cause of injury-related deaths," said Stephen Robinovitch, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who specializes in injury prevention and mobility biomechanics.
"So there's been a great deal of research focusing on the cause of falls, prevention of falls and fall-related injuries," Robinovitch, who led the study published in this week's issue of the Lancet, said from Burnaby, B.C. "But really up until now, we've had no objective evidence on how and why these events occur."
To get a better sense of what happens when someone takes a tumble, researchers set up video cameras in hallways, public dining halls and lounges in two B.C. long-term care residences. They analyzed recordings of 227 falls involving 130 individuals, separating the falls into three stages: initiation, descent and impact.
"So what we found was that about 20 per cent of falls were due to trips and 10 per cent were due to being bumped or nudged by someone else, or hit by a door closing," he said.
"But the remaining 70 per cent — and the reason why we think falls are so common in this population of frailer individuals in long-term care — they basically occurred during a failed attempt at performing daily activities like walking, sitting down and even just standing quietly.
"And they were most often due to what we call incorrect weight shifting," he said, explaining that the person leaned too far past their centre of gravity, losing their base of support between the feet and the ground.

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