Investigation of the effects of floor stiffness on risk of fall-related hip fractures

About 23,000 people fracture their hips in Canada each year, resulting in treatment costs of approximately $1 billion. Without improvements in prevention and given Canada’s aging population, hip fractures are expected to quadruple by 2041. Falls cause more than 90 percent of hip fractures. Fracture risk during a fall depends on the force of the impact on the femur (thigh bone). Andrew Laing is evaluating the potential of low stiffness flooring to reduce the risk of fall-related hip fractures in high-risk environments such as nursing homes and hospitals. In laboratory experiments, Andrew is testing whether reducing floor stiffness decreases force applied to a hip during a fall, and whether floor stiffness can be reduced without impairing balance. Findings could contribute to the design of flooring that reduces risk of hip fractures and provide insight into similar interventions to reduce wrist, spinal cord and head injuries.