Falls in the elderly related to postural imbalance


P W Overstall, A N Exton-Smith, F J Imms, A L Johnson

Two hundred and forty-three elderly people aged 60 to 96 years were questioned about their falls, and their sway was measured. For comparison sway was also measured in 63 younger subjects. Sway increased with age and was higher in women at all ages. There was no difference in sway between those with no history of falls and those who fell only because of tripping. In both sexes sway was significantly increases in people who fell because of loss of balance and in women whose falls were due to giddiness, drop attacks, turning the head, and rising from bed or a chair. This suggests that there is a physiological decline in postural control with advancing age and also a decline due to disease of the central nervous system.

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