Report reveals that falls are now the most common type of major trauma in England and Wales

Professor Tim Coats (pictured), from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, has highlighted the need to rethink the organisation and training in the treatment of major trauma incidents.

The first national report on major injury in older people has been released by the Trauma Audit & Research Network, hosted by The University of Manchester, showing that falls from a standing height are now the most common cause of major trauma.

The ten-year report, based on 8, 176 injured patients aged 60 years and above in England and Wales reveals that the typical severely injured patient isn’t the traditional young male injured in a road traffic incident, but now older and injured as a result of falling, with a lower male predominance.

The report shows that the older injured patient may be at a disadvantage in terms of receiving optimal care.  Older people with major injury are less likely than younger adults to be taken directly to a major trauma centre for specialist treatment - due to the challenges of reliably identifying major injury in older people at the scene.

Tim Coats, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Leicester said: "This important report highlights that there is a previously under-recognised role for Trauma Units across the UK in the identification and management of major trauma in older people. We need to rethink the organisation and training within trauma systems and realise that there are two distinct forms of major trauma, so that we can individualise and to optimise treatment.”

Once the older major trauma patient arrives at hospital for the treatment of their injuries, the report also reveals that they are less likely to be seen by a Consultant in the Emergency Department than younger adults.

The traditional belief is that older patients are more likely to injure themselves during winter; however the report dispels this myth and shows little difference in numbers of hospital admissions in older people with major trauma.    This can be largely attributed to falls in the home which is the predominant cause of major injury in older adults.