FRIDAY, March 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) — While older women are treated for falls more often than older men, men are more likely to suffer skull fractures when they fall, new research suggests.
This is a serious concern because more than 3 million people age 65 and older are treated in US emergency departments each year for falls.
“The high incidence of head trauma and subsequent skull fractures due to falls is of concern as our elderly population continues to live active lifestyles,” study co-author Dr. Scott Alter, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, said in a university press release.
Head trauma is the leading cause of serious injuries, and skull fractures are a serious result of head trauma, the study authors noted.
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About 58% of these falls happen to women, according to the 2016 National Trauma Database annual report.
To study this further, Alter and his colleagues evaluated all patients seen with head injury at two level-one trauma centers in Southeast Florida.
Researchers examined skull fractures due to acute trauma, comparing them by gender, patient race/ethnicity, and how the injury occurred.
About 56% of the more than 5,400 patients were women. About 85% of head injuries occur from falls. The women and men had an average age of about 83 and 81 years, respectively.
Men had a significantly increased incidence of skull fracture secondary to head trauma, mainly due to falls. The researchers noted that the result was unexpected because previous research had indicated that women were more susceptible to facial fractures.
While this trend was also seen across different races and ethnic groups, the results were only statistically significant for white people, the researchers found.
“Because falls cause the greatest number of head injuries and subsequent skull fractures, fall prevention may be an important intervention to consider” in reducing illness and injury, Alter said.
“While falls prevention education can be addressed in the primary care setting or in assisted living facilities, the emergency department can also represent an opportunity to educate patients and prevent future deaths and disabilities from falls in this population,” added.
The report was published in the March issue of American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
The US National Institute on Aging has more information on preventing falls in seniors.
SOURCE: Florida Atlantic University, press release, March 8, 2023