The CDC categorizes falls into two basic types: elevated falls and same-level falls. Same-level falls are more common and therefore cause more injuries to more people, but elevated falls are the most serious and cause more severe injuries to a less number of people. Over 60 percent of all elevated falls are from a height of less than 10 feet. Same-level falls are usually slips and trip accidents and injury generally takes place when the individual hits a walking or working surface or hits another object in the course of the fall.
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According to the CDC unintentional falls account for 19,565 deaths annually in the U.S. The Center estimates that 20% to 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries. These injuries can inhibit mobility and hamper independent living. Slip and fall accidents are the common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and these account for 46% of fatal falls among older Americans. The most common fractures that occur from slip and fall accidents are fractures are of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
Slip and falls are mainly caused by a slippery surface. When human beings walk two types of slips can occur. One of these occurs as the heel of the forward foot meets the walking surface and the front foot slips forward forcing the person to fall backward. The other type occurs when the rear foot slips backward applying force to move forward on the sole of the rear foot.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that there are 110,000 injuries to the feet and toes of U.S. workers annually accounting for 19 percent of all disabling work injuries.
Slip and falls accidents can cause other complications including:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Long-term medical complications
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
The CDC reports that almost 1,800 older Americans die every year from falls and fall related injuries in nursing homes across the nation. The Center estimates that nursing home residents account for 20% of all deaths from falls in persons 65 years of age and older. Over one third of all adults in that age group will suffer some sort of a slip and fall accident every year. Slip and fall accidents account for more injury deaths of older Americans than any other form of injury. In total, over 15,000 people 65 or older die annually from slip and fall injuries close to 2 million are treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered as result of a slip and fall.