Seniors who had trouble shifting their weight properly as they moved forward were most likely to suffer from a fall, Canadian researchers have determined.

Researchers in British Columbia analyzed video from 227 falls in two separate nursing homes over three years. Weight-shifting problems accounted for 41 percent of them, followed by tripping or stumbling (21 percent).

There were three categories of problems—hitting or bumping, loss of support, and outright collapse—that accounted for 11 percent of the falls, the researchers said.

The seniors were more likely to fall while walking forward (24 percent), standing quietly (13 percent), or sitting down (12 percent), the researchers said.

“Compared with previous reports from the long term care setting, we identified a higher occurrence of falls during standing and transferring, a lower occurrence during walking, and a larger proportion due to center-of-mass perturbations than base-of-support perturbations,” the researchers wrote, referring to weight-shifting, as opposed to leg-lifting.

The research team included Simon Fraser University Professors Stephen Robinovitch and Fabio Feldman.
Their findings were published in October in The Lancet.

“By providing insight into the sequences of events that most commonly lead to falls, our results should lead to more valid and effective approaches for balance assessment and fall prevention in long term care,” the researchers said in interpreting their data.

“When a fall occurred, facility staff completed an incident report and contacted our teams so that we could collect video footage,” the researchers wrote.

Bill Myers