Specific Factors Increase Risk of Falling Downstairs for Young Women, Study Shows

A recent study has uncovered that young women face a higher risk of falling downstairs compared to young men, due to certain factors and behaviors. The research, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on July 26, 2023, observed college students on a university campus, focusing on their stair-descending habits. The study identified eight common risky behaviors during stair descents among the 2,400 young adults analyzed.

Findings revealed that women were less likely than men to utilize handrails, more prone to engaging in conversations or using electronic devices, and more inclined to wear sandals or high heels while descending stairs. Despite exhibiting some safer habits, such as paying attention to the stair tread during transitions, women were discovered to be 80% more likely to sustain injuries while descending stairs compared to men. This places them among the highest-risk groups for stair-related injuries.

To reduce the risk of falls while descending stairs, Shirley Rietdyk, the senior author and professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, offered practical tips. These include wearing appropriate footwear, utilizing handrails, avoiding distractions like smartphones, and keeping hands free for better balance and stability.

The study also identified other vulnerable groups prone to stair-related falls, namely children under the age of 3, young adults in their 20s, and older adults over the age of 85. Compared to other kinds of falls, stair-related falls pose a greater risk of serious injuries such as broken bones or head injuries.

While the focus of the study was on young adults, the findings hold implications for older adults as well. Adhering to preventive measures such as wearing suitable footwear, scheduling regular eye and hearing check-ups, and addressing risk factors can help prevent falls on stairs and enhance overall safety.

Experts emphasize that falls on stairs can largely be prevented by identifying and proactively addressing the associated risk factors. By taking necessary precautions, remaining focused, and being mindful of surroundings, the likelihood of accidents while descending stairs can be significantly reduced.

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