Advocacy: Lose The Throw Rug!

Cold weather, icy walkways, slippery parking lots – stimuli for elder fears of falling and breaking or fracturing a hip increases substantially during the winter months. A recent medical study finds the potential of falling indoors by tripping over an obstacle – power cord, throw rugs, clutter, is far greater than falling in the driveway.

Fear the throw rug!

Author of the study, Dr. Jason Guerico, says, “Given the results of this study, it appears that efforts to decrease fall risk among the elderly living in cold climates should not be preferentially aimed at preventing outdoor fractures in winter…Preventive efforts should focus on conditions present year-round, and especially on indoor risk.” The research was conducted by the North American Partners in Anesthesiology at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, Conn.

Analysis of 544 patients with hip fractures concluded greater than 55 percent of the hip fractures occurred during warm months, with the highest rates in May, September and October (around 10 percent each). More than three-quarters of the hip fractures occurred indoors. 60 percent of outdoor fractures occurred from May through October, not in the depths of winter.

The most common cause of both indoor and outdoor hip fracture is tripping over an obstacle. Indoors, throw rugs were the most common obstacle cited; and, falling out of bed was #2.