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New study finds head injuries from falls increasing for LTC residents

October 8, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Head injuries sustained as a result of falls have increased according to a new study conducted by researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Findings show that 60 percent of hospital admissions of long-term care residents were the result of traumatic brain injury sustained during a fall.

Researchers analyzed videotapes of 227 falls among 133 residents at two long-term care facilities in British Columbia, Canada, to determine how the residents fell and which body part made first contact with the ground.  Finding showed that heads hit the ground first 67 percent of the time. Furniture and walls also caused injuries when a senior fell. The analysis also showed that more falling forward increased the likelihood of the head absorbing first impact.

“We were actually surprised that falling forward is much more risky. You’re three times more likely to impact your head if you fall forward,” says lead researcher Stephen Robinovitch.

Researchers suggest that more study is needed to help improve assistive devices and design safer facility environments to prevent falls and to minimize the risk of serious injury. The study is published in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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