Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Higher Risk of Head Injuries Due to Falls Among Elderly in Long-Term Care

Seniors who fall while in long-term care facilities are at high risk for traumatic brain injuries, with nearly 40 percent of those who fall striking their heads, according to a study published in the October 7th Canadian Medical Association Journal. Of 227 falls reported at two long-term care facilities in the British Columbia province of Canada from April 2007-June 2010, more than a third (37 percent) involved residents hitting their heads. Twenty out of 59 falls with head impact resulted in a report of head injury.

The study shows that direction of a fall and landing position were significantly associated with likelihood of head impact. When falling, patients tended to twist backward, lowering the risk of head impact. Participants trying to use their hands to stop falls did not significantly lower the likelihood of head impact. To reduce the risk of head injuries, the researchers suggest improved screening for fall risk factors, improved facility design and flooring, and better fall prevention programs, reports.

INQRI grantee Patti Dykes worked with a team to develop the Falls: Tailoring Interventions for Patient Safety (Falls TIPS) online tool kit to educate patients and families about how they can work with nurses and other providers to prevent falls. The toolkit was developed based on the Fall TIP: Validation of Icons to Communicate Fall Risk Status and Tailored Interventions to Prevent Patient Falls study, which involved developing and validating a set of icons designed to communicate fall risk status, and developing tailored interventions to prevent patient falls in hospitals.

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