Rigid surfaces represent a risk of impact related injury wherever we live and age. Falling on these rigid surfaces is the leading cause of death and injury in older adults.
Reducing the risk of an impact injury is not only possible, but levels of protection are actually required by law in many environments. As an example, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were developed and are mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reduce the risk of fatalities and critical injuries sustained in crash events. In the automotive sector, both passive protection systems (padding) and active systems (airbags) have proven effective in substantially reducing injury risk at reasonable cost. Similar standards and interventions exist and are required for public playgrounds, sports surfaces, sports equipment, and military vehicles thus making those environments safer.
So the question is, why aren’t there similar standards and strategies being deployed in long-term care knowing that fall related injuries are the leading cause of death among older adults?
The answer is distillable:
1. Falls happen despite our best efforts to prevent them.
2. The culprits that create the injury risk are gravity and rigid subfloors like wood, tile, and concrete.
3. The floor covering is not to blame. Floor coverings are just doing what they’re engineered to do. They provide essential traction, durability, and cleanability among other vital functions. The flooring manufacturers do an incredible job developing functional, quality, and aesthetically pleasing goods to cover these rigid subfloors.
4. In physics, work is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement. Work must be done to reduce injury risk.
5. To reduce the fall injury risk, the flooring system needs to be capable of displacement or deformation during a fall so that less force is experienced by a falling body or an individual.
So how do you create a safer environment for seniors that both maintains the performance characteristics of floor coverings yet allows for the essential work/displacement that reduces injury risk?
- You only select flexible floor coverings that can accommodate displacement which include thousands of products from various manufacturers including sheet vinyl, stick down LVT, and carpet. You avoid rigid floor coverings like wood, ceramic tile, and click lock vinyl which don’t flex so they can’t perform the work necessary to reduce the injury risk.
- You install Viconic Fall Defense® between the flexible floor covering and the rigid subfloor in areas where falls are most likely to occur to reduce the risk of fall related injuries there—and you’re done.
It really is that simple. Viconic’s patented Fall Defense flooring underlay is engineered so that the flexible floor covering can do its job while the Viconic system works to reduce the fall injury risk 24/7. That’s passive fall protection. Developed by the leading experts in military blast mitigation and automotive crash protection, it’s a new intervention now available for both long term care and aging in place environments.
To learn how Viconic Fall Defense can reduce injury risk in your environment, request a consult.