Send to

Choose Destination
J Gerontol. 1991 Sep;46(5):M164-70.

Risk factors for injurious falls: a prospective study.

Author information

Division of Clinical Epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco.


We conducted a prospective study of the consequences of falls in 325 elderly community-dwelling persons, all of whom had fallen in the previous year. We contacted subjects every week for one year to ascertain falls and to determine the circumstances and consequences of falls. Only 6% of 539 falls resulted in a major injury (fracture, dislocation, or laceration requiring suture), but over half (55%) resulted in minor soft tissue injury. One in ten falls left the faller unable to get up for at least 5 minutes, and one in four falls caused subjects to limit their activities. The risk of injury per fall was about the same regardless of the number of falls a person had during follow-up. The risk of major injury was increased (age- and sex-adjusted odds ratio: 5.9, 95% confidence interval: 2.3-14.9) in falls associated with loss of consciousness compared to nonsyncopal falls. In multivariate analyses of nonsyncopal falls, the risk of major injury per fall was higher in persons having a previous fall with fracture (6.7; 2.1-21.5), a slower Trail Making B time (1.9; 1.1-3.2), and in Whites (18.4; 7.5-44.6). The risk that a nonsyncopal fall would result in minor injury (versus no injury) was increased in persons with a slower hand reaction time (1.8; 1.0-3.2) decreased grip strength (1.5; 1.0-2.3), in Whites (2.0; 1.0-3.7), in falls while using stairs and steps (2.2; 1.0-5.0), and turning around or reaching (3.5; 1.7-7.3). Our findings suggest that neuromuscular and cognitive impairment, as well as the circumstances of falls, affect the risk of injury when a fall occurs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center