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Elderly at Risk of Elevator-Related Injuries

Elderly at Risk of Elevator-Related Injuries

Photo: Elevator buttons 

Older adults are more likely to use elevators than stairs or escalators. While elevators are one of the safest forms of transportation, they can pose a real danger for the aging population.

In a large-scale study of elevator-related injuries in elderly in the United States, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine (IU) and an Ohio State University colleague report on the frequency, nature and opportunities for prevention of these injuries.

Three-fourths of elevator-related injuries involved older women. More than half of the elevator-related injuries to older adults were the result of a slip, trip or fall and about one-third were the result of the elevator door closing on the individual. Injuries related to wedging a walker in the elevator door opening was the third most frequent category.

Of all injuries among older adults, almost half were soft tissue injuries such as a sprain or bruise. The next most frequently recorded types of injury were fractures and lacerations, including finger or toe amputation.

"Elevator-related injuries are not accidental they are easily preventable. Especially older adults, who often have vision or balance issues, should not stick an arm or leg or walker into the path of a closing elevator door. Elevator open buttons should be made twice the size of the other elevator buttons so they are not hard to find by passengers who want to stop the door from closing on an approaching individual. This would be very inexpensive to change because electronics don't have to be altered, just the button," said Greg Steele, associate professor of epidemiology in the Department of Public Health at the IU.

Misalignment, when the floor of the room and the floor of the elevator compartment are not perfectly even, is difficult for older adults with vision problems to see and a frequent cause of slips, trips and falls. Steele recommends that bright paint be applied to the edge of the room floor and the edge of elevator compartment to make it easier to observe, even when rushing into or out of an elevator. "The cost would be pennies but the saving astronomical. Slips, trips and falls often start a downward decline in an older individual's health and quality of life," said Steele.

The bottom line, according to Steele, is that rates of elevator-related injuries increase with age, declining mobility and dimming vision, but that these injuries can be prevented. He urges older adults, and all elevator riders, to slow down and wait for the next car rather than risking injury.

REHACARE.de; Source: Indiana University School of Medicine

- More about the Indiana University School of Medicine at www.medicine.iu.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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