Functional Outcome After Minor Traumatic Injury in Elders

Researchers: Rob Partridge, MD; Marc Shapiro, MD, and David Gifford, MD

This study, funded by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the John A. Hartford Foundation, used the setting of the emergency department to investigate functional decline in elders with minor injury.

The study population was comprised of independently functioning elderly patients with acute traumatic injury treated primarily by emergency physicians and discharged from the emergency department. Functional outcome was assessed at the time of injury and at a three-month follow-up. The study found that 7% of independent elderly patients discharged from the emergency department after a minor injury have a decline in their ability to perform activities of daily living. In addition, 22% have a decline in their instrumental activities of daily living.

Thus, even a minor injury for a highly functional elderly person may put him or her at risk for functional decline and loss of independence.