gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Client safety: how to predict fall

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author A. Bergland - Oslo University College, Norway
  • G.-B. Jarnlo - Lund University, Sweden
  • T. Bruun-Wyller - Ullevaal University Hospital, Norway

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa063

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Bergland et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




In the elderly, balance and walking impairments are assumed to play an important role in causing falls. The purpose of was to assessed prospectively the predictive ability of health, function and balance variables regarding falls and their location.


Falls which occurred during one year in a random sample of 307 women aged 75 years and over, were recorded, and related to base-line registrations of health, medication and tests of walking and balance.


In all, 155 women (50.5%) reported 308 falls. Outdoor falls were significantly more frequent than indoor falls (57.5 % vs. 42.5%). Near 2/3 (62.8%) of the falls occurred during walking, 33 (10.7%) were related to climbing stairs, and a further 20(6.5%) took place during transfer from bed or chair. In all, 156 of the falls resulted in an injury, and in 74 cases (24.0%) this was categorised as severe. Forty falls (13.0%) resulted in fractures. An additional 34 falls (11%) resulted in soft tissue injuries that required medical treatment. The variables having had a fall before the start of the study, osteoporosis, hypertension, feeling depressive, unable to climb 40 cm high steps and walking slowly all independently predicted a higher number of falls overall. Regarding fall location, having experienced a fall before study start was associated with more falls indoors as well as outdoors. Vision impairment, symptoms of depression, a faster comfortable walking speed, and being able to cope with higher steps were all independent predictors of more outdoor falls also after adjustment for outdoor exposure. A slower comfortable walking speed, a higher amplitude of the center of pressure movements in the frontal plane, a poorer score on the timed up & go test, multimorbidity, poor cognition and hypertension were independent risk factors for indoor falls.


Outdoor falls have a higher incidence than indoor ones among elderly Norwegian women. These two types of falls are predicted differently, and an association between morbidity and falling exists for indoors falls. Location of falling is an important confounder when studying the predictive validity of tests of balance and walking in the elderly.