Monday, August 10, 2015

Injuries from falls vary by race, ethnicity and gender

I've had 2 bad falls in the last 2 years--one on the basement stairs, and one on my bike. No broken bones, but huge bruises one which will be permanent. So I'm paying attention and have learned some odd things: whites are more likely than blacks or Hispanics to have fall injuries and death; the death rate for men is 40% higher than women; the death rate from falls has gone up sharply in the last decade; 75 is a lot more dangerous than 65; there are over 258,000 hip fractures and the rate for women is almost twice the rate for men; hip fractures are much more common in white women than black.

2004 - 2013, United States Unintentional Fall Death Rates per 100,000 All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 65+  Source: 2004: 41.15, 2005: 43.12, 2006: 44.8, 2007: 48.47, 2008: 50.91, 2009: 51.54, 2010: 53.76, 2011: 55.36, 2012: 56.07, 2013: 56.96

  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • About one-half of fatal falls among older adults are due to TBI.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling.  This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
In 2013, the direct medical costs of older adult falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion.

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