Background: The goal of this study was to evaluate the burden of falls in the elderly in a Canadian tertiary trauma center.
Methods: Patients admitted to Charles-LeMoyne Hospital with a low velocity fall (LVF) from April 1, 1993 to March 31, 2000 were individually reviewed. Elderly was defined as age 65 years and older. A region was considered to be injured if Abbreviated Injury Scale was greater than or equal to 2.
Results: There were 2,333 patients with LVF, 41.4% of all blunt trauma admissions. Median Injury Severity Score was 9 for elderly compared with 5 for young (p < 0.001). Injuries were significantly more frequent to head, face, thorax, and lower limbs in the elderly. Mortality (13.4% versus 0.9%; p < 0.001), length of stay (median = 15 versus 3 days; p < 0.001) and long-term care facility reference (19.3% versus 1.1%, p < 0.001) were significantly higher in the elderly.
Conclusions: LVF is a frequent cause of admission for trauma in the elderly. Despite the apparent benign nature of the mechanism, LVF is associated with more severe injuries and worse outcome.