Staircase falls: high-risk groups and injury characteristics in 464 patients

Injury. 2009 Aug;40(8):884-9. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2009.01.105. Epub 2009 May 31.


Introduction: Few data are available about the epidemiology and injury characteristics in staircase falls. The available literature mainly concerns children and autopsy studies.

Objective: To describe the epidemiology and injury characteristics of staircase falls, and to identify high-risk groups for these falls.

Methods: All patients who reported to an academic Accident & Emergency (A&E) department in 2005 after a staircase fall were selected in the Dutch Injury Surveillance System These data were linked to the hospital Trauma Registry database.

Results: Four hundred and sixty-four patients (42% male, p=0.001), with a median age of 35 years were included. Children under five suffered significantly more head injuries. Male patients showed significantly more thoracic injuries than female patients. Spinal column fractures were only seen in patients over 25 years of age. Older patients tended to accumulate more rib fractures and lower extremity fractures and were admitted more frequently than the younger patients. Sixty-one patients (13%) required admission. Two patients, both with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), died. National data on staircase falls were comparable with our hospital data. However, in comparison to the national population data, senior citizens in this study had an incidence that was markedly higher than in the younger patients.

Conclusion: Injuries due to staircase falls occur in all age groups, however, children under five years are relatively over-represented with higher rates of head injury. Senior citizens showed a markedly higher incidence than younger patients. Most injuries occur to the distal extremities and are relatively mild.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control
  • Young Adult