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Study: Nursing Home Fall Injuries Reduced With Special Flooring

A special kind of impact-absorbing floor material was found to slash fall-related injuries by approximately 60 percent in Swedish nursing homes, according to a new study published in the journal Injury Prevention.stairway1

The lead author of the study noted the seriousness of falls for elderly in nursing homes, asserting they comprise nearly 70 percent of all falls among older people, who on average suffer three to four falls annually. Consequences can range from minor bruising and pain to hip fractures and head injuries.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one of every three adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall. Of those, about 25 percent will suffer a moderate-to-severe injury that will not only impair their mobility, but possibly put them at risk of serious infection or even death. The direct medical costs for these incidents pushes $35 billion a year.

What Swedish researchers analyzed was the effect of impact-absorbing floor. This is not an especially new concept, but it hasn’t been all that widely tested. Even where it has been studied, it’s mostly been for use in sports and traffic. Researchers say they expected the severity of injuries would be reduced, but they were surprised by how much of a reduction was seen.

The flooring was installed in a nursing home with six apartments sectioned off into six wards. A portion of those were equipped with the new flooring, save for bathrooms and eating areas (as it had not been approved for wet areas).

During the study period, which ran between 2011 and 2014, there were 254 falls reported on the regular flooring and 77 on the special flooring. Of falls that occurred on regular flooring, 30 percent resulted in an injury. Meanwhile, of those falls that occurred on special flooring, 17 percent resulted in injury.

While most of the falls resulted in relatively minor injuries, serious injuries were reported in equal percentages on both kinds of flooring. About 2 percent of those falls resulted in hip fractures. However, it was in the category of minor injuries where researchers noted the greatest disparity.

And even though fall injuries were less common on the special floors, falls themselves were equally common no matter where the patient was in the nursing home.

The study authors noted that this is a relatively small sample size, and further study would be needed in order to truly assess the value of such material in nursing home settings.

Of course, any improvement that can help reduce nursing home falls is worthy of further exploration. However, even if the flooring material were widely-used, it would not absolve nursing home administrators or staffers from taking appropriate precautions to ensure falls don’t occur in the first place.

The fact is, most falls are preventable. Consider that more than a third of all falls occur with patients who cannot walk. That means patients were not safely or properly secured in wheelchairs, beds or during transfers for bathing or other activities. Responsibility for these situations falls squarely on the shoulders of those who have promised to provide care and supervision.

Our experienced injury lawyers are prepared to answer your questions about whether you or your loved one may have a case for civil compensation.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

 Investigating the fall-injury reducing effect of impact absorbing flooring among female nursing home residents; initial results, April 1, 2015, Injury Prevention

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Nursing Home Sexual Assault Between Residents a Serious Problem, April 6, 2015, Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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