Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets

J Inj Violence Res. 2013 Jan;5(1):61-9. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v5i1.177. Epub 2012 Aug 6.


Background: Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury among adults age 65 years and older. Loose, unsecured rugs and damaged carpets with curled edges, are recognized environmental hazards that may contribute to falls. To characterize nonfatal, unintentional fall-related injuries associated with rugs and carpets in adults aged 65 years and older.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of surveillance data of injuries treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) during 2001-2008. We used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program, which collects data from a nationally representative stratified probability sample of 66 U.S. hospital EDs. Sample weights were used to make national estimates.

Results: Annually, an estimated 37,991 adults age 65 years or older were treated in U.S. EDs for falls associated with carpets (54.2%) and rugs (45.8%). Most falls (72.8%) occurred at home. Women represented 80.2% of fall injuries. The most common location for fall injuries in the home was the bathroom (35.7%). Frequent fall injuries occurred at the transition between carpet/rug and non-carpet/rug, on wet carpets or rugs, and while hurrying to the bathroom.

Conclusions: Fall injuries associated with rugs and carpets are common and may cause potentially severe injuries. Older adults, their caregivers, and emergency and primary care physicians should be aware of the significant risk for fall injuries and of environmental modifications that may reduce that risk.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Floors and Floorcoverings / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries* / classification
  • Wounds and Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries* / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries* / psychology