According to a new analysis of U.S. injury data, approximately 37,000 people over age 65 are injured annually while attempting to enter or exit a vehicle. Roughly 40% of these injuries were due to falls. Additionally, the same group was found more likely to be hospitalized as a result of falls than was the average driver. These findings are the result of new research published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
As the U.S. population ages, the percentage of older adults with valid driver’s licenses is growing, and seniors are spending more time and more miles on public roads. All of these factors suggest that injuries caused while entering and exiting cars could become a larger problem. To test this hypothesis, researchers analyzed data for incidents occurring between 2001 and 2003 from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program, a database which gathers injury data from 66 U.S. emergency rooms annually.
Researchers focused on 14,774 people of all ages who were injured getting out of or into a vehicle. People 65 years of age and older were found to be 10 times more likely to be hospitalized for injuries incurred while entering or exiting a vehicle than younger people, and women were significantly more likely to be hospitalized than men. Further, injuries were more than twice as likely to occur when a person was exiting a vehicle than when he or she was entering the vehicle.
Authors of the study recommend four effective fall-prevention steps people can take to protect themselves:
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