Go-Far: Going outdoors; falls, ageing and resilience

This source preferred by Samuel Nyman

Authors: Aspinall, P., Ballinger, C., Codinhoto, R., Newton, R., Nyman, S.R., Ormerod, M., Pearce, J., Phillips, J., Skelton, D.A. and Ward Thompson, C.

http://www.fallsbonehealth.ukevents.org/index.html

Start date: 9 September 2011

Introduction Approximately one third of people aged 65+ living in the community fall at least once per year, with many suffering multiple falls. Although about half these falls are away from the home (either internal or external locations) there is poor data on the actual number of falls outside. In recent EPSRC funded I’DGO research (www.idgo.ac.uk) 15% of respondents aged 65+ (n=1600) reported they had fallen outside within the past 12 months, though many falls were likely to have not been reported. Many of the environmental risk factors (pavement quality, dilapidation, kerb height) associated with outdoor falls appear to be preventable through better design and maintenance. Despite this, outdoor falls are a neglected public health problem due to a lack of standardized methods for evaluating outdoor environment hazards, and the difficulty of associating falls with specific outdoor environment hazards which are dynamic over space and time, and in relation to different individuals.

Pilot study A pilot study, funded by the UK Medical Research Council, is being undertaken for 12 months from January 2012 to explore the features of the outdoor environment which shape older people’s resilience to falls. This will involve: 1. Scoping of current falls data collection methods to define ‘hotspots’ of outdoor environmentally linked falls; 2. Examine what older people perceive as the key risk factors for falling in the outdoor environment; 3. Developing an audit tool for the outdoor environment that will identify options for falls prevention; 4. Developing a pilot protocol for the use of a combination of engineering tools in the real world to assess the surface condition and properties of different built environment materials; 5. Ensuring appropriate knowledge exchange with health and built environment professionals, international experts, and older pedestrians.

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