HealthDay News reported on a recent study that showed that 37% of falls in nursing homes result in head injury. The study was published Oct. 7 in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). People hit their head on the floor in 63 percent of such cases, most often striking hard flooring, such as tile or linoleum. Sixteen percent struck their head on furniture and 13 percent hit their head on a wall. The risk for head impact was much higher for forward falls than for backward falls, and attempts to use the arms to break falls were ineffective, according to a journal news release.
“Although we cannot identify why hand impact was generally ineffective in halting downward movement and preventing head impact, likely causes include ineffective arm placement; non-optimal muscle tone or muscle activation at impact; and insufficient strength in upper-limb, neck and trunk muscles, which is amenable to improvement through resistance training,” the researchers wrote.
Creating a safer environment is a suggestion — such as adding a flooring sub-layer that is soft enough to cushion the impact but not so soft that it impairs balance.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about older adults and falls.