Biomechanics and prevention of vertebral fractures due to falls

Vertebral fractures in the spine are the most common type of fractures resulting from osteoporosis. These fractures cause back pain, impair physical function, reduce quality of life, increase mortality, and result in massive hospital and continuing care costs. After one vertebral fracture, the risk of a second vertebral fracture within 12 months increases fourfold. Most vertebral fractures result from a backwards fall. Dr. Meena Sran is conducting the first study to examine the forces that impact the spine during a typical backwards fall, and ways to reduce this load. Meena is investigating three promising techniques for preventing vertebral fractures during falls: having high risk fallers wear padded, shock-absorbing protective garments; installing floors that are less stiff; and using safe-landing techniques. The research could contribute new strategies to prevent vertebral fractures.