Some senior falls may be a result of an undiagnosed neurological disorder

Lisa Wurth

February 16, 2012

Winter safety tips for seniors.Falls among the elderly are all too common – in 2009 approximately 2.2 million elders suffered nonfatal fall injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although typical old-age issues such as worsening eyesight and moving slower tend to be common factors in falls, a new study finds that some seniors might also be suffering from undiagnosed neurological disorders.

The study, presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, looked at 28 hip fracture patients and 35 hip replacement patients. The participants were all free of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They were also tested for cervical myelopathy, which is a common neurological disorder that can affect a person’s balance and coordination.

From the results, scientists found that 18 percent of the patients with hip fractures also suffered from an undiagnosed case of cervical myelopathy. None of the hip replacement participants had the condition.

These findings show that some falls among older people may be preventable, though more research needs to be conducted to prove these results. Those aging in place might benefit from installing a senior alert system in their homes for added precaution as falls can occur at anytime.

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