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Soft flooring in hospitals could cut injuries from falls

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The number of serious injuries sustained by older people who fall over in hospitals could be cut by introducing shock-absorbent flooring, university researchers have said.

A study at the University of Portsmouth will investigate whether the foam floors used in sports centres can be used in hospitals.

Falls are the main cause of death for people over 75, according to Amy Drahota from the university’s health science and social work department.

“Older people are especially vulnerable to falls because they are more unsteady on their feet and this can be worse when they are unwell in hospital and walking in unfamiliar surroundings,” she said.

“If they do have a fall then shock-absorbent flooring may help reduce the severity of their injuries and result in a swifter recovery and briefer stay in hospital.”

She said 30% of over-65s fall at least once a year and 15% fall at least twice in a year.

The Helping Injury Prevention in Hospitalised Older People study uses flooring that looks like ordinary vinyl but has a memory foam backing with shock absorbing properties.

St Mary’s Hospital in Newport, Isle of Wight; York Teaching Hospital Trust; Harrogate District Hospital and Ellesmere Port Hospital are all currently testing the new flooring.

The study has received funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust and the National Osteoporosis Society.

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