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Watch your step: Elevator-related injuries and older adults
Date:2/9/2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- In the first large-scale epidemiological study of elevator-related injuries in older adults in the United States, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and an Ohio State University colleague report in the January 2010 issue of The Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection, and Critical Care on the frequency, nature and opportunities for prevention of these injuries.

Nearly 120 billion riders enter an estimated 750,000 elevators annually in the U.S. Older adults are more likely to use elevators than stairs or escalators. While elevators are one of the safest forms of transportation, they can pose a real danger for the aging population.

According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data, approximately 44,870 (about 2,640 annually) elevator-related injuries, severe enough to require a visit to a hospital emergency department, occurred in individuals 65 years and older from 1990 to 2006. Hip fracture was the most common diagnosis for the 14 percent admitted to the hospital.

Three-fourths of these injuries involved older women. More than half of the elevator-related injuries to older adults were the result of a slip, trip or fall and about one-third were the result of the elevator door closing on the individual. Injuries related to wedging a walker in the elevator door opening was the third most frequent category. The overall injury rate from 1990 to 2006 was seven times greater in the 85and older group than in the 65-69 age group.

Of all injuries among older adults, almost half were soft tissue injuries such as a sprain or bruise. The next most frequently recorded types of injury were fractures and lacerations, including finger or toe amputation.

"Elevator-related injuries are not accidental they are easily preventable. Individuals of any age, but especially older adults, who often have vision or balance issues, should not stick an arm or leg or walker into the path of a c
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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