The New York Times’ Derrick Henry reports that a study to be published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicates that 87% of fall injuries in the elderly involve the use of walkers, while 12 percent of fall injuries involve canes. Approximately 47,000 elderly patients suffer falls involving assistive devices that result in a visit to the emergency room each year. The physicians who conducted the study reviewed emergency department medical records from 66 hospitals over a five year period.
The authors of the study suggest that physicians take additional time to explain how to properly use walking aides. As epidemiologist, Judy A. Stevens explains, “It’s important to make sure people use these devices safely. It gives them greater independence, but at the same time it can be a hazard if not used properly.” The study also indicates that the designs of the devices (walkers and canes) could be improved.