Worried about family or friends falling? New guideline identifies those most at risk

Feb 04, 2008

A new guideline developed by the American Academy of Neurology finds certain neurology patients are at a high risk of accidental falls and should be regularly screened to help prevent the high number of fall-related injuries and deaths in the United States each year. The guideline is published in the February 5, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“There is a lack of awareness among doctors and patients in recognizing and preventing falls, which can lead to hip fractures, head injury, hospitalization and in some cases death,” said lead guideline author David J. Thurman, MD, MPH, with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Each year, unintentional falls in the United States account for more than 16,000 deaths and 1.8 million emergency room visits.

To develop the guideline, the authors analyzed all available scientific studies on the topic, and found people with stroke, dementia, and walking and balance disorders are at the highest risk of falling. Having fallen in the past year also strongly predicts that a person will fall again. People with Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, weakness in the legs or feet, and substantial vision loss are also likely to fall.

“People need to know that falls are preventable and there are simple tests to determine if you’re at risk of falling,” said Thurman. “Oftentimes the doctor may not ask about falls and the patient may not mention falls. But, it’s important to discuss falls since some people can face serious life consequences after falling, such as disability and loss of independence, which may be averted only through fall prevention.”

Thurman says identifying people at high risk of falling is a critical step in preventing future falls. “This guideline recommends doctors routinely ask patients about falls and use screening measures, such as the Get-Up-and-Go Test or Timed-Up-and-Go Test, and mobility tests, to determine if a person is likely to fall and needs prevention help, such as making their home safer or beginning a regular exercise program.”

Thurman says routinely asking patients about falls will ultimately help reduce fall-related injuries and deaths and lead to better quality of life for patients at risk.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pupils pay for regulation of teachers' salaries

Aug 22, 2012

Teacher productivity is a large concern for the current coalition government.  A new study, published today [22 August] investigated the relationship between centralised pay setting of teachers’ ...

'Jeopardy!'-winning computer delving into medicine

May 22, 2011

Some guy in his pajamas, home sick with bronchitis and complaining online about it, could soon be contributing to a digital collection of medical information designed to help speed diagnoses and treatments.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.