Emergency departments treated more than 47,000 elderly patients for fall injuries related to walkers and canes from 2001 to 2006, according to results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury in the U.S., and elderly patients who use walkers and canes need to receive more education on how to use their aids safely, the CDC said. According to the study, which examined six years of emergency department medical records, people were seven times more likely to be injured in a fall with a walker than in a fall with a cane. About 4% of injuries happened when people were sitting, standing or transferring their position, and another 5% to 6% occurred as people were bending, reaching or carrying objects as they used their walkers, according to the report. Nearly 5% of injuries happened when patients fell backward.
In its study, the CDC encouraged professionals to spend more time with clients and patients who have to use walking aids and provide more counseling and education on how to use them. The study also called for more research to better understand fall risk factors.