Barefoot seniors more likely to fall, study finds

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A pair of recently released studies examines potential causes of falls. One study finds seniors' footwear to be a factor, while another looks at ways to predict falls among Parkinson's patients.

Researchers from the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research have found that seniors who go barefoot or wear only socks around the home are at greater risk for falls. Up to 52% of the seniors studied who reported a fall were barefoot, wearing socks without shoes, or wearing slippers at the time of the fall, according to the report. These shoeless fallers were more likely to experience serious injuries, including fractures. Falls prevention programs should include discussions about footwear, researchers said. The report will publish in the summer issue of Footwear Science.

Meanwhile, researchers at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, have developed a method to help predict which Parkinson's patients are likely to fall. Researchers were best able to predict falls by testing patients' overall Parkinson's symptoms, asking patients how often they “freeze” while walking, and testing patients' balance. The combination of these tests had a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 84% for predicting falls, according to the study, which appears in the June 23 online issue of Neurology.

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