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More Seniors Falling Victim to Escalator Injuries
Date:3/21/2008

A doubling of accidents in 15-year span may reflect increasingly mobile lifestyles, experts say

FRIDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans are being injured during slips and falls on escalators at increasing rates, a new study finds.

The rate of injuries to older adults riding escalators more than doubled from 1991 to 2005, said study lead author Dr. Joseph O'Neil, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and an expert on injury prevention.

"Escalators are a safe means of getting from one floor to another for older Americans, but you do need to be careful, especially if you have mobility, balance or vision problems," he said.

O'Neil and his colleagues published their findings in the March issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Reviewing records from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the research team found that nearly 40,000 adults age 65 and older were injured on escalators between 1991 and 2005. In fact, the rate rose more than two-fold during that period: from 4.9 injuries per every 100,000 older Americans in 1991 to 11 injuries per 100,000 people by 2005.

The trend of increasing escalator accidents is likely related to shifts in lifestyle, O'Neil speculated. "Older adults are now more active at an older age than probably ever before," he noted, adding that the mean age of the accident victims in the study was 80 years old.

But while escalator accidents are an important matter of public safety for the elderly, they should not be blown out of proportion, O'Neil said. "This is a small portion of the total number of injuries that occur in older adults," he said.

Most of the injuries were not serious. Only 8 percent of the injured were admitted to a hospital after evaluation in an emergency department. The most common injuries were to the lower extremities (about 26 percent) and the head
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