Journal of Public Health

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 212–215 | Cite as

Rising incidence of fall-induced injuries among elderly adults

  • Pekka Kannus
  • Seppo Niemi
  • Mika Palvanen
  • Jari Parkkari
Original Article


Aim and methods

Fall-induced injuries in older people are a major public health concern in modern societies with aging populations. Despite this, very little is known about the population trends in these injuries and long-term follow-ups are lacking. Our aim was to determine the current trends in the number and incidence (per 100,000 persons) of fall-induced injuries in older adults in Finland, an EU country with a well-defined white population of 5.2 million, taking into account all persons 80 years of age or older who were admitted to our hospitals for primary treatment of a first fall injury over the period 1970–2002.


The number of fall-induced injuries in elderly Finns increased considerably between the years 1970 and 2002: from 1,139 to 11,835 overall (a 10.4-fold rise), and from 927 to 9346 in women (a 10.1-fold rise) and from 212 to 2489 in men (an 11.7-fold rise). In both genders, the age-adjusted incidence of fall-induced injuries also increased during the study period, the incidence being 2711 (women) and 1441 (men) in 1970, and 6681 (women) and 4726 (men) in 2002. Assuming that the observed relatively linear development in the incidence rates of fall-induced injuries in elderly Finnish people continues and that the size of this population increases as predicted, the annual number of Finns aged 80 years or older experiencing a fall-induced injury can be estimated to increase further steeply during the coming three decades, from the above-noted 11,835 to about 42,500 in the year 2030 (a 3.6-fold rise).


The number of fall-induced injuries among elderly Finns shows an alarming rise with a rate that cannot be explained merely by demographic changes. Wide-scale preventive measures should be urgently adopted to control the rising burden of these injuries.

Key words

Epidemiology Fall-induced injuries Older adults Time trends 



The authors thank the following organizations for financial support of the study: the Medical Research Fund of Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland, the Juho Vainio Foundation, Paulo Foundation, and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Heath, Helsinki, Finland.


  1. 1.
    Kannus P, Parkkari J, Koskinen S, Niemi S, Palvanen M, Järvinen M, Vuori I (1999) Fall-induced injuries and deaths among older adults. JAMA 281:1895–1899CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kannus P, Niemi S, Palvanen M, Parkkari J (2000) Continuously increasing number and incidence of fall-induced, fracture-associated, spinal cord injuries in elderly persons. Arch Intern Med 160:2145–2149CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tinetti ME, Speechley M (1989) Prevention of falls among the elderly. N Engl J Med 320:1055–1059PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weir E, Culmer L (2004) Fall prevention in the elderly population. Can Med Assoc J 171:724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gill TM, Allore HG, Holford TR, Guo Z (2004) Hospitalization, restricted activity, and the development of disability among older persons. JAMA 292:2115–2114CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Salmela R, Koistinen V (1987) Coverage and accuracy of the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register. Hospital 49:480–482Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Keskimäki I, Aro S (1991) Accuracy of data on diagnosis, procedures and accidents in the Finnish hospital discharge register. Int J Health Sci 2:15–21Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Luthje P, Nurmi I, Kataja M, et al (1995) Incidence of pelvic fractures in Finland in 1988. Acta Orthop Scand 66:245–248PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Official Statistics of Finland (2003) Structure of population and vital statistics: whole country and provinces, 1970–2002. Statistics Finland, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Official Statistics of Finland (2001) Population projections 2001–2030. Statistics Finland, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kannus P, Parkkari J, Niemi S, Palvanen M (2005) Fall-induced deaths among elderly people. Am J Public Health 95:422–424CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Shinoda-Tagawa T, Clark DE (2003) Trends in hospitalization after injury: older women are displacing young men. Injury Prev 9:214–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Melton LJ III (1996) Epidemiology of hip fractures. Bone 18:121S–125SCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cummings SR, Melton LJ III (2002) Epidemiology and outcomes of osteoporotic fractures. Lancet 359:1761–1767PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Langlois JA, Kegler SR, Butler JA, Gotsch KE, Johnson RL, Reichard AA, et al (2003) Traumatic brain injury-related hospital discharges. Results from a 14-state surveillance system, 1997. MMWR Surveill Summ 52:1–20Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Adekoya N, Thurman DJ, White DD, Webb KW (2002) Surveillance for traumatic brain injury deaths—United States, 1989–1998. MMWR Surveill Summ 51:1–14Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Tinetti ME (2003) Preventing falls in elderly persons. N Engl J Med 348:42–49CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gillespie LD, Gillespie WJ, Robertson MC, Lamb SE, Cumming RG, Rowe BH (2004) Interventions for preventing falls in elderly people (Cochrane Methodology Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UKGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chang JT, Morton SC, Rubenstein LZ, et al (2004) Interventions for the prevention of falls in older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. BMJ 328:680–683CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pekka Kannus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Seppo Niemi
    • 1
  • Mika Palvanen
    • 1
  • Jari Parkkari
    • 3
  1. 1.Accident and Trauma Research CenterUKK Institute for Health Promotion ResearchTampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryTampere University Medical School and University HospitalTampereFinland
  3. 3.Tampere Research Center of Sports MedicineUKK Institute for Health Promotion ResearchTampereFinland

Personalised recommendations