(HealthDay News) — Video evidence has identified the most frequent causes of falls and the activities that are most commonly associated with falling among the elderly in long-term care facilities, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in The Lancet.

Stephen N. Robinovitch, Ph.D., from the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and colleagues conducted an observational study to obtain evidence for analyzing real-life falls in long-term care settings. Digital video cameras were installed in common areas of two long-term care facilities and video footage of falls was collected.

A total of 227 falls from 130 individuals (mean age, 78 years) were included. The researchers found that the most frequent cause of falling, which accounted for 41 percent of falls, was incorrect weight shifting, followed by trip or stumble (21 percent), hit or bump, loss of support, and collapse (11 percent each). Only 3 percent of falls were due to slipping. The activities associated with the highest proportion of falls included forward walking, standing quietly, and sitting down (24, 13, and 12 percent, respectively). Compared with prior reports from the long-term care setting, there was a higher occurrence of falls during standing and transferring, a lower occurrence while walking, and a larger proportion attributable to center-of-mass rather than base-of-support perturbations.

“By providing insight into the sequences of events that most commonly lead to falls, our results should lead to more valid and effective approaches for balance assessment and fall prevention in long-term care,” Robinovitch and colleagues conclude.

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