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98 Preventing fall injuries with impact absorbing flooring in nursing homes – a study of the effects on injuries and work environment
  1. Johanna Gustavsson
  1. Karlstads University, Sweden

Abstract

Background Fall injuries pose a global public health problem. Whilst all elderly are at risk of fall injuries, the risk of injury is 10 times as high amongst elderly living in nursing homes. An injury occurs when body tissue is subjected to external kinetic energy exceeding the tissue’s tolerance. Reducing this energy in order to prevent injuries has been successfully applied in many fields. A impact absorbing floor as an energy reducing measure to prevent fall injuries has been evaluated. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential fall injury reducing effects of impact absorbing flooring in a nursing home, as well as the staff’s experience of working in premises with impact absorbing flooring.

Methods The intervention site is a nursing home in Sweden where impact absorbing flooring was installed. To investigate the fall injury reducing effect falls on impact absorbing flooring were compared to falls on regular flooring. To describe how the staff presided working in premises with special flooring a qualitative focus group interview study were conducted.

Results The results show that for women the risk of injury following a fall on the impact absorbing flooring was 59% less compared to falls on ordinary floors, after adjustment for age, BMI, vision impairments, and cognitive impairment. With regards to the staff’s experience of the impact absorbing flooring, the nurses felt that the floor defused the falls and in that way reduced the risk of injury. They were also positively surprised by the change in acoustics. There were also some challenges associated with the floor, for example, adapting to walking on the floor and manoeuvring equipment (eg hoists).

Conclusions The results suggest that for an elderly and frail population, impact absorbing flooring seems to be an effective injury prevention measure. The intervention was generally perceived as positive by the staff, even though some negative aspects were observed. These aspects need to be studied further.

  • Accidental falls
  • nursing homes
  • nursing staff
  • injury prevention
  • impact absorbing flooring

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