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Mobility Interrupted

July 1, 2009

Most of the time, we worry about elders slipping on stairs, clutter, ice and unsecured area rugs. But according to a new report released by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the CDC, a six-year analysis of emergency department hospital visits showed that assistive aids—the very tools designed to keep people upright and moving safely—can sometimes cause falls among the elderly, particular those who are frail. Of these falls, nearly 90 percent involved a walker rather than a cane, and a greater proportion of women were affected. Put in perspective, these falls account for just 47,000 of the estimated 1.8 million falls seen in the EDs each year. Even so, since mobility devices are prescribed when truly needed, researchers concluded that patients need better instruction on how to use them to make such falls an even smaller percentage.