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    Friday, July 31, 2009


    A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society "suggests that there is room for improvement in the use and design of walking aids," citing data that indicates "about 47,000 older Americans are treated in emergency" departments (EDs) "each year [for] falls associated with walkers and canes."

    The study "is based on six years of" ED "medical records," which showed that "such falls, mainly involving walkers, account for about three percent of all falls among people 65 and older." The study also shows that doctors should take more time to better fit patients with walking aids and teach how to use them safely."

    Women sustained 78 percent of walker-related injuries and 66 percent of cane-related injuries," and that "the risk of falling while using a walker or a cane increased with age, with the highest injury rate among those ages 85 and older." The researchers found that "fractures were the most common type of injury suffered while using canes (40 percent) and walkers (38 percent)."

    “It’s important to make sure people use these devices safely,” said an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the study’s lead author. “It gives them greater independence, but at the same time it can be a hazard if not used properly.” The study, found that 87 percent of fall injuries involved walkers and 12 percent involved canes. Researchers examined emergency-room medical records at 66 hospitals from Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2006. They focused on patients 65 and older who had been treated for 3,932 nonfatal, unintentional fall injuries in which a cane or a walker was involved. A statistical analysis estimates that there are 47,312 falls a year. The study found that fractures, bruises and abrasions were the most common injuries associated with the falls. Almost a third of all injuries were to the lower trunk, including the hips.

    Sixty percent of fall injuries associated with walkers and canes occurred at home, while 16 percent of falls involving a walker occurred at nursing homes, the study said.
    Authors of the study said that doctors might consider taking more time to show patients how to use walkers properly and that additional research could lead to design improvements for walking aids.

    Please remember, as with all our articles we provide information, not medical advice.
    For any treatment of your own medical condition you must visit your local doctor, with or without our article[s]. These articles are not to be taken as individual medical advice.

    * Tune in tomorrow for FALLS IN THE ELDERLY.

    Deepen your understanding of "medical malpractice"...

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