Learning Objective 1: Describe a non-traditional approach to fall prevention programs.
Learning Objective 2: List factors that distinguish injury falls and non-injury falls by older adults.
Methods: Subjects (N=75) in this secondary analysis of data from a larger clinical trial comparing eccentric exercise and traditional muscle strengthening exercise were over 65 years, had 2 or more comorbidities, and had fallen at least once in the last year. Data collected at baseline included demographics (age, comorbidities, and gender), Timed Up and Go, 6 Minute Walk, Berg Functional Balance scale, and lower extremity strength. Using the postcard method, subjects were followed for one year for falls and were interviewed by telephone after each event to ascertain characteristics associated with the fall. Quantitative analysis included t-test and ANOVA. Descriptive qualitative methods were used to derive themes.
Results: No demographic or functional characteristics differentiated injury and non-injury fallers. Number of comorbidities increased risk for serious injury risk (p=.038; one-tailed), but not for minor injury. Themes that emerged related to environment, prodromal symptoms, location, activities, and “catching” oneself. Patterns more likely to be associated with injury falls were being outdoors, ground elevation changes, moving fast, and distracted by concern for others.
Conclusion: Qualitative and quantitative features may distinguish those likely to suffer injury falls. Taking good fall history may allow detection of patterns of non-injury falls before an injury is sustained.
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