A new study by New York University (NYU) suggests possible differences in the characteristics and outcomes of older patients who fall, in terms of whether it occurs indoors or outdoors.

The study, conducted by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, was published recently in the journal Geriatrics and Gerontology International.

In the study, explains a media release from New York University, the researchers took note of data from the trauma registry and electronic medical records at the Trauma Center at Jamaica Hospital in New York City. They studied a total of 712 people, including patients aged 55 years or older who fell either indoors or outdoors before coming to the hospital. The researchers noted demographic information, other health conditions, and the type and severity of injury.

According to their findings, the researchers note that people who fell outdoors were more likely to be younger, male, and were less likely to have certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes, dementia, and congestive heart failure when compared to people who fell indoors.

In addition, while outdoor fallers were just as likely to experience severe injuries and long hospital stays as indoor fallers, indoor fallers were more likely to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility rather than returning home from the hospital. This finding is logical given that indoor fallers are on average older and may take longer to recover, the release continues.

In terms of injuries, unspecified head injuries and open wounds were more common among outdoor fallers, and sprains more common among indoor fallers. Being older, female, and having dementia were found to be associated with fractures among indoor fallers. Having a joint disorder was associated with fractures in both groups, and alcohol use at the time of the fall was negatively associated with fractures for both indoor and outdoor fallers.

“Given the difference in characteristics between indoor and outdoor fallers, targeted prevention programs are warranted to address the needs of these two groups,” says study author Tracy Chippendale, assistant professor of occupational therapy at NYU Steinhardt, in the release.

“Since outdoor fallers are more likely to be younger and less likely to go to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing center—where fall prevention training often occurs—after being discharged from the hospital, we need to think about the location where fall prevention initiatives are offered. One possibility would be primary care clinics,” she adds.

[Source(s): New York University, Newswise]