Kradal Flooring Pilot Study
Pilot Development - Safety Flooring To Reduce Injuries From Falls In The Elderly

KRADAL FLOORING PILOT STUDY

Falls are a serious public health problem among older adults. More than a third of adults aged 65 years or older fall each year and of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death.

Consider data on falls from the USA:
 In 2003 (a), more than 1.8 million seniors were treated in emergency departments for fall related injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and hospitalizations in older adults. In 2002, nearly 13,000 people aged 65 and older died from fall related injuries.

Approximately 3% to 5% of older adult falls cause fractures.(a)Based on the 2000 United States census, this translates to 360,000 to 480,000 fall related fractures each year. In 1994, the total cost of all fall injuries for people aged 65 or older was US$27.3 billion, and by 2020 this cost is expected to exceed US$43.8 billion due to the aging of the population.

The potential benefit of an energy absorbing flooring to prevent fractures from falls was investigated in an economic evaluation from Pennsylvania State University.(b) Assuming US$50/sq foot for manufacturing and installation costs, they reported a cost per life year saved of <US$0, indicating a cost saving as well as injury/mortality prevention with this type of flooring.

The Problem: Our challenge was to produce a flooring technology that is sufficiently impact absorbent to significantly reduce the fall injury rate. This flooring had to be no softer than carpet with underlay (in fact firmer is desirable as carpet with underlay may increase sway and therefore increase the risk of falling) while remaining a similar thickness to currently available underlay's and flooring materials. To achieve this, a thin flooring material that is soft when you fall onto it, but firm when you stand and walk on it, is required.

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The Solution: We have developed a new flooring technology which optimises energy absorption on impact with the floor or ground in order to reduce the likelihood of a fracture from a fall, while at the same time minimising deflection to avoid increasing the rate of falls. It is a thin panel of composite polyurethane materials.

Results: KRADAL tiles impact testing was based upon results published in"Does the type of flooring affect the risk of hip fracture?" by A. H. R. W. Simpson, S. Lamb, P. J. Roberts, T. N. Gardner and J. Grimley Evans. ASTM F355-01-A was chosen as the test method for testing impact performance of Kradal tiles as it was similar in concept to the test methods used by Simpson et al.

KRADAL flooring tiles were tested by researchers at Otago University to ASTM F355-01-A. They found KRADAL tiles reduced the peak impact by 65-80% compared to bare wood/concrete and 20-40% compared to carpet with underlay on concrete or wood.

Conclusion: The use of this technology in long term care facilities and hospitals would be safe, practical and result in a reduction in the rate and costs of fractures and other injuries from falls. It would also be beneficial if used in and around homes and shopping malls, in fact anywhere older people are moving about.


References:

(a) - National Center for Injury Prevention and Control - Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview.
(b) - Zacker C, Shea D. international Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care 1998; 14(3):446-457.
(c) - KRADAL Product Testing Summary Report (Document ID 105 / Issue 1 Mar 27 2007) (PDF 1M-screen resolution)