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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 928603, 6 pages
Research Article

Unexplained Falls Are Frequent in Patients with Fall-Related Injury Admitted to Orthopaedic Wards: The UFO Study (Unexplained Falls in Older Patients)

1Geriatric and Gerontology Institute, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena 41121, Italy
2Geriatric Department, Azienda Policlinico Federico II, Naples 80131, Italy
3Unit of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery, University of Florence and Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Careggi, Florence 50134, Italy
4Geriatric Unit, Santa Chiara Hospital, Trento 38122, Italy
5Department of Geriatrics, Azienda Sanitaria Locale 4, Chiavari 16043, Italy
6Division of Geriatrics, Ospedale S Maria Nuova, Reggio Emilia 42123, Italy

Received 24 July 2012; Revised 13 January 2013; Accepted 16 January 2013

Academic Editor: Arnold B. Mitnitski

Copyright © 2013 Mussi Chiara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To evaluate the incidence of unexplained falls in elderly patients affected by fall-related fractures admitted to orthopaedic wards, we recruited 246 consecutive patients older than 65 (mean age years, range 65–101). Falls were defined “accidental” (fall explained by a definite accidental cause), “medical” (fall caused directly by a specific medical disease), “dementia-related” (fall in patients affected by moderate-severe dementia), and “unexplained” (nonaccidental falls, not related to a clear medical or drug-induced cause or with no apparent cause). According to the anamnestic features of the event, older patients had a lower tendency to remember the fall. Patients with accidental fall remember more often the event. Unexplained falls were frequent in both groups of age. Accidental falls were more frequent in younger patients, while dementia-related falls were more common in the older ones. Patients with unexplained falls showed a higher number of depressive symptoms. In a multivariate analysis a higher GDS and syncopal spells were independent predictors of unexplained falls. In conclusion, more than one third of all falls in patients hospitalized in orthopaedic wards were unexplained, particularly in patients with depressive symptoms and syncopal spells. The identification of fall causes must be evaluated in older patients with a fall-related injury.