Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Video Analysis Prompts Shift in Thinking on Causes of Falls

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Video Analysis Prompts Shift in Thinking on Causes of Falls

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- More often than not, elderly patients who fall in long-term care facilities do not trip or stumble while walking, but are instead transitioning from standing still or initiating a new activity at the time of their fall, according to an analysis of video-recorded falls.

"These results challenge traditional assumptions regarding the cause and circumstance of falls in older adults living in long-term care," Stephen N. Robinovitch, Ph.D., said at the meeting.

About half of older adults living in long-term care facilities fall each year, whereas the annual incidence is about 30% among older adults living in the community, said Dr. Robinovitch of the department of biomedical physiology and kinesiology at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.

Studies of self-reported falls have suggested that about half of all falls result from slips and trips, while the rest are ascribed to losing balance, changing posture, or a leg giving way. In these studies, the most common activities at the time of a fall were walking, turning, transferring, and reaching.

As part of the ongoing Vancouver Fall Mechanisms Study, Dr. Robinovitch and his colleagues are working with two long-term care facilities in British Columbia to develop "real-life laboratories" where they can witness activity before and during falls instead of relying on self-reports.

In common areas throughout the two facilities (each with about 230 beds), the investigators used 270 digital video cameras to record 184 falls by 124 residents during a 2-year period. Three expert reviewers classified the key characteristics of each fall. …

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