Study: Falls not linked to physical activity

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Elderly hospital patients who fell while in a hospital did not walk around any more than patients who did not fall, a new study reports.

Federal initiatives have cracked down on the costs associated with patient falls, but geriatricians warn that keeping seniors immobile can backfire. Not moving enough can lead to poor muscle tone and decreased balance, they argue.

The study bolsters their case. To examine the incidence of falls among ambulatory and non-ambulatory seniors, researchers from the University of Texas at Galveston equipped 35 elderly hospital patients with small electronic devices that recorded every step they took.

They determined that there was no statistical difference in the amount of walking between the two groups. They did find that falls were associated with delirium and/or poor cognitive function. Additionally, all of the falls took place at night, with 60% of falls related to trips to the bathroom.

The study was published online in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.