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PLoS Med. 2019 Jun 24;16(6):e1002843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002843. eCollection 2019 Jun.

The Flooring for Injury Prevention (FLIP) Study of compliant flooring for the prevention of fall-related injuries in long-term care: A randomized trial.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
2
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
3
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
4
Clinical Quality & Patient Safety, Fraser Health Authority, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
5
Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
6
New Vista Society Care Home, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fall-related injuries exert an enormous health burden on older adults in long-term care (LTC). Softer landing surfaces, such as those provided by low-stiffness "compliant" flooring, may prevent fall-related injuries by decreasing the forces applied to the body during fall impact. Our primary objective was to assess the clinical effectiveness of compliant flooring at preventing serious fall-related injuries among LTC residents.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

The Flooring for Injury Prevention (FLIP) Study was a 4-year, randomized superiority trial in 150 single-occupancy resident rooms at a single Canadian LTC site. In April 2013, resident rooms were block randomized (1:1) to installation of intervention compliant flooring (2.54 cm SmartCells) or rigid control flooring (2.54 cm plywood) covered with identical hospital-grade vinyl. The primary outcome was serious fall-related injury over 4 years that required an emergency department visit or hospital admission and a treatment procedure or diagnostic evaluation in hospital. Secondary outcomes included minor fall-related injury, any fall-related injury, falls, and fracture. Outcomes were ascertained by blinded assessors between September 1, 2013 and August 31, 2017 and analyzed by intention to treat. Adverse outcomes were not assessed. During follow-up, 184 residents occupied 74 intervention rooms, and 173 residents occupied 76 control rooms. Residents were 64.3% female with mean (SD) baseline age 81.7 (9.5) years (range 51.1 to 104.6 years), body mass index 25.9 (7.7) kg/m2, and follow-up 1.64 (1.39) years. 1,907 falls were reported; 23 intervention residents experienced 38 serious injuries (from 29 falls in 22 rooms), while 23 control residents experienced 47 serious injuries (from 34 falls in 23 rooms). Compliant flooring did not affect odds of ≥1 serious fall-related injury (12.5% intervention versus 13.3% control, odds ratio [OR]: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.52 to 1.84, p = 0.950) or ≥2 serious fall-related injuries (5.4% versus 7.5%, OR: 0.74, 95% CI: 0.31 to 1.75, p = 0.500). Compliant flooring did not affect rate of serious fall-related injuries (0.362 versus 0.422 per 1,000 bed nights, rate ratio [RR]: 1.04, 95% CI: 0.45 to 2.39, p = 0.925; 0.038 versus 0.053 per fall, RR: 0.81, 95% CI: 0.38 to 1.71, p = 0.560), rate of falls with ≥1 serious fall-related injury (0.276 versus 0.303 per 1,000 bed nights, RR: 0.97, 95% CI: 0.52 to 1.79, p = 0.920), or time to first serious fall-related injury (0.237 versus 0.257, hazard ratio [HR]: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.52 to 1.62, p = 0.760). Compliant flooring did not affect any secondary outcome in this study. Study limitations included the following: findings were specific to 2.54 cm SmartCells compliant flooring installed in LTC resident rooms, standard fall and injury prevention interventions were in use throughout the study and may have influenced the observed effect of compliant flooring, and challenges with concussion detection in LTC residents may have prevented estimation of the effect of compliant flooring on fall-related concussions.

CONCLUSIONS:

In contrast to results from previous retrospective and nonrandomized studies, this study found that compliant flooring underneath hospital-grade vinyl was not effective at preventing serious fall-related injuries in LTC. Future studies are needed to identify effective methods for preventing fall-related injuries in LTC.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01618786.

Conflict of interest statement

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: SNR was a consultant to SATech in 2008 to evaluate impact force reduction provided by SmartCells flooring. He had no links to the company throughout the trial period and has no current links to the company. SNR has a patent US11794550 with royalties paid, related to wearable hip protectors for hip fracture prevention. SNR is a consultant to Tytex A/S and BlueTree Medical Products Inc., companies that manufacture and sell wearable hip protectors for hip fracture prevention. FF is a consultant to BlueTree Medical Products Inc., which manufactures and sells hip protectors for hip fracture prevention. ACL reports grants from SofSurfaces Inc, grants and personal fees from SorbaShock LLC, and grants and personal fees from Viconic Sporting, outside the submitted work. ACL is a member of an ASTM Work Group (WK38804) whose Technical Contact is employed by SATech. SATech has donated flooring materials to ACL’s laboratory that have formed the basis of several studies examining the biomechanical effectiveness of compliant flooring. ACL has never had (nor does he currently have) any financial links to the company. All other authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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