Many of us would have no doubt that ice and snow are significant fall risks. Hence, we would think that fall injuries such as fractures are more prevalent in the winter months. But apparently, this assumption is wrong!
A recent study1 shows that a majority of falls occur during the warm months of May through October, and most of the falls happened indoors rather than out.
In this study, the circumstances of 544 patients treated at The Hospital of Central Connecticut for hip fracture from 2013 to 2016 were analysed.
The results show that:
- More than 55 % of hip fractures occurred during the warm months of May through October. Significantly, May (10.5 %), September (10.3 %) and October (9.7 %).
- Most hip fractures occurred indoors ((76.3 %), with only 23.6 % happened outside.
- Outdoor fractures – More than 60% happened during the warm months. The leading cause was tripping over an obstacle, followed by accident involving a vehicle and falling on or down stairs.
- Indoors fractures – More than 56% happened during warm months. The leading cause was tripping over an obstacle (especially throw rugs), followed by falling out of bed.
Because the study was centred at just one hospital in a particular location, therefore the results are not necessary representative nationally. However, we can still learn something from it.
Firstly, obstacles in the path of movement is the main fall risk whether indoor or out. Therefore, it is important to make sure the floor or ground is clear of clutters.
Secondly, we are reminded again that most falls happened at home.
Thirdly, since throw rug was singled out as the leading cause of fall, shouldn’t it be banished from our home? And replaced with something more secure? Carers of elderly should take note.
Final thought: Most seniors probably prefer to stay indoor during the winter months. Having fallen several times on icy roads and pavements in the past, I definitely won’t venture out when the weather is not agreeable. This probably explains why icy ground and snow are not big fall risk factors. What do you think?
- A preliminary study presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Boston. Study author Dr. Jason Guercio.