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Seniors in long-term care homes have high risk of head injury from falls: study

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Seniors in long-term care homes have high risk of head injury from falls: study

Seniors living in long-term care facilities have a high risk of falling, and many of those who take a tumble end up striking their heads, a study has found.

Falls account for more than 60 per cent of hospital admissions for traumatic brain injury in seniors over age 65, and the incidence is on the rise, especially among those over 80, researchers say.

In a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers at Simon Fraser University analysed video recordings of 227 falls among 133 residents at two B.C. long-term care homes. Video cameras had been set up in such public areas as hallways and lounges to capture falls among residents.

The researchers had previously studied what caused residents to fall; in this study, they looked at "how" they fell - in other words, the physical mechanics - and what part of the body took the brunt of impact.

They found that in 37 per cent of falls, people hit their heads - and contact was most often on the ground, said principal researcher Stephen Robinovitch, who specializes in injury prevention and mobility biomechanics.

Residents' heads struck the ground in 64 per cent of cases, while 13 per cent smacked their head against a wall and 16 per cent into furniture.

One-third of those who banged their heads as the result of a fall were diagnosed with an injury, ranging from cuts and bruises to fractures.

Surprisingly, there were no concussions diagnosed, said Robinovitch, but noted it can be difficult to distinguish concussion symptoms like memory impairment from similar symptoms caused by dementia.

Most people tend to throw out their hands and arms in a bid to break a fall and limit injury - and the same was true of seniors videotaped during the 39-month study.

"We're seeing that people continue to attempt that, but it's not successful in these older adults," he said Monday from Vancouver. "Three-quarters of the time they contact the ground with the hands, but that had no effect on risk for head injuries.

"They're still hitting their heads."

References and further information

This article was originally produced by The Windsor Star.

 

To view the rest of this article visit The Windsor Star website.  http://www.windsorstar.com/health/Seniors+longterm+care+homes+have+high+risk+head+injury+from+falls/9007026/story.html

 

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