Do canes or walkers make any difference? nonuse and fall injuries

Clare Luz, Tamara Bush, Xiaoxi Shen, Rachel Pruchno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose of the Study: Examine patterns of cane and walker use as related to falls and fall injuries. Hypotheses: Among people who fall at home, most do not have an assistive device with them when they fall. Nonusers who fall sustain more severe injuries. Design and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using a self-administered written survey completed by 262 people aged 60 and older who were community dwelling, cognitively intact, and current cane/walker users with a history of falls. They were recruited through clinical practice sites, churches, and senior housing in central Michigan. Outcomes of interest included patterns of device use, reasons for nonuse, device use at time of fall, and fall-related injuries. Results: Seventy-five percent of respondents who fell were not using their device at the time of fall despite stating that canes help prevent falls. Reasons for nonuse included believing it was not needed, forgetfulness, the device made them feel old, and inaccessibility. Perceived risk was not high enough to engage in self-protective behavior. However, nonuse led to a significantly higher proportion of falls resulting in surgery than among device users. Among respondents requiring surgery, 100% were nonusers. Most respondents never received a home safety evaluation (68%) and only 50% received training on proper device use. Implications: Providers must place increased emphasis on the importance of cane/walker use for injury prevention through patient education to promote personal relevance, proper fitting, and training. New strategies are needed to improve device acceptability and accessibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalGerontologist
Volume57
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology

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