Study: Falling like 'parachutist' lowers seniors' hip fracture odds by 70%

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If falling seniors tumble like a landing skydiver-and do it promptly-they can reduce their likelihood of a hip fracture by 70%, University of Michigan researchers say.

Computer simulations showed that crouching and then leaning during a fall so the outside of the lower leg hits before landing on one's backside will dissipate the force on the hip to only 25% of what is needed to break it. Investigators say their research into the value of sideways falling methods is unique.

"In this study, we asked whether it matters what you do in the air after you start to fall," said James Ashton-Miller, a professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. "We found that a parachutist's landing style reduces your risk of injury, and you can land a fall safely with or without your hands."

Delaying the use of the parachutist strategy by more than two-tenths of a second increased the impact of the fall by 70%, he added.
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