Falls and bone fractures are among the five most common causes leading for the loss of independence in Germany. Falls can lead to restrictions in individual functionality, independence, everyday life management, social participation and thus quality of life of older people. Furthermore, the treatment of falls is linked to enormous costs for the health care system. Therefore, it is important to prevent further falls by reducing fall risks. A special risk group that does not receive secondary prevention are older people who present to the emergency department after a fall, but for whom the severity of the injury does not require hospitalisation.
The aim of the “SeFallED” project is to identify and predict long-term trajectories in terms of independence to perform activities of daily living, functional performance, physical activity and the fall risk profile of this at-risk group. Therefore, patients who have been treated in the emergency department because of a fall, but are discharged within 72 h are recruited. In home and gait lab visits, a comprehensive geriatric assessment, gait analyses with and without perturbations on a treadmill, are used to analyse fall risk factors and the individual functional trajectories. Based on these comprehensive insights a statistic prediction model is generated.
It is also of importance for the team to involve the patients and their caregivers in the research process in a qualitative approach and to assess their needs, preferences and barriers to participate in fall prevention programmes. The sum of these results forms the starting point for the selection of already existing and the development of new intervention strategies to prevent falls, or to minimise the individual risk of falling.
Paper: Stuckenschneider et al. BMC Geriatrics Stuckenschneider, T., Koschate, J., Dunker, E. et al. Sentinel fall presenting to the emergency department (SeFallED) – protocol of a complex study including long-term observation of functional trajectories after a fall, exploration of specific fall risk factors, and patients’ views on falls prevention. BMC Geriatr 22, 594 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-022-03261-7