Carpeted Wood Floors Reduce Hip Fracture Risk
Covering Cement Floors With Wood and Carpeting May Protect Elderly
April 30, 2004 -- The relatively simple act of covering a
cement or wood floor with carpeting may dramatically reduce the risk of
potentially disabling hip fractures among the elderly, according to a new
Researchers say the findings suggest that if uncarpeted wood
floors were replaced with carpeted wooden surfaces in nursing homes, the risk
of hip fracture resulting from a fall would be reduced by nearly 80%.
For nursing homes that already have carpeted floors,
researchers say having wooden rather than concrete underlays would reduce the
risk of fall-related hip fractures by an additional 29%.
Hip fractures are a major health threat among the elderly and
often lead to a loss of mobility and poor overall health. An estimated 1.7
million hip fractures were reported worldwide in 1990, and that number is
expected to grow to more than 6 million by 2050 because of the aging
Flooring Reduces Hip Fracture Risk
In the study, published in the May issue of Age and
Ageing, researchers looked at the number of falls and flooring type
involved over a two-year period in 34 residential nursing homes in the U.K.
A total of 6,641 falls and 222 fractures occurred during the
study. Researchers found carpeted wooden floors were associated with the lowest
number of hip fractures compared with wood floors, concrete floors, or carpeted
The risk of a hip fracture from a fall on a carpeted wood floor
was 78% lower than all other floor types.
Researchers also measured the mechanical properties of the four
floor types and found the average impact force was much lower on carpeted wood
floors than on other types, which suggests that the flooring type absorbs much
of the shock of the fall and protects the bone from breaking.
"Residents of nursing homes are typically frail and many
have a tendency to fall," says researcher Sallie Lamb, of the University of
Warwick, in a news release. "In designing safer environments for older
people, the type of floor should be chosen to minimize the risk of fracture.
This may result in a major reduction in hip fractures in the elderly."