Question: What’s the best way to learn why the elderly fall?
Answer: Study how they fall.
That’s just what Thurmon Lockhart does. A scientist at the Virginia Tech Locomotion Research Laboratory, he is striving to understand why the elderly—at a particularly vulnerable time of life—tend to fall down.
“There are a lot of people dying from this, and a lot of those that don’t die never recover,” Lockhart asserts. According to Global Action on Aging, he is one of dozens of researchers who are using neurology, physics, kinesiology, and brain imaging to determine why elderly people fall and why the falls often lead to serious injury or death.
The Research Results
Lockhart has found that because young people walk faster and take larger steps, they slip more often than do elderly folk; however, they get their balance more easily. What factors contribute to falls by Wisconsin seniors?
- Declining vision;
- Waning strength;
- Diminishing nerve sensitivity in the soles of the feet;
- Changing sense of balance and location in space; and perhaps
- Fewer “fast-twitch” fibers in the muscles of elderly people, which makes rapid recovery from a loss of balance more difficult.
Unfortunately, the people who are injured the worst in falls in Madison are the ones least able to recover. Each year, more than one-third of elderly Americans fall, and more than 10,000 die from their resulting injuries. Annually, 320,000 Americans over 65 years old break their hip; according to one study, they have a 1 in 3 chance of dying within a year.
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Madison, contact the experienced Wisconsin slip-and-fall attorneys at Hupy and Abraham right away. Call us locally at 608-277-7777 or toll free at 888-277-4879, or fill out our online form for a FREE consultation.