Hyperkyphotic posture and risk of injurious falls in older persons: The Rancho Bernardo Study

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Objective. Falls among older adults can have serious physical and emotional consequences, ultimately leading to a loss of independence. Improved identification of those at risk for falls could lead to effective interventions. Because hyperkyphotic posture is associated with impaired physical functioning, we hypothesized that kyphosis may also be associated with falls. Methods. Participants were 1883 older adults from the Rancho Bernardo Study. Between 1988 and 1991, kyphosis was measured using a system of 1.7-cm blocks placed under the participants' heads if they were unable to lie flat without neck hyperextension. Data on falls including injurious falls, demographics, health, and habits were obtained from a self-administered questionnaire completed at the same visit. Results. Hyperkyphosis was defined as requiring the use of ≥ 1 blocks (n = 595, 31.6%). In this cohort, men were more likely to be hyperkyphotic than were women (p < .0001). Of those who fell, 36.3% were hyperkyphotic, versus 30.2% among those who did not fall (p = .015). Those who fell were older, more likely to be women, had lower body mass index, did not exercise, did not drink alcohol, and had poor self-reported physical and emotional health. In age- and sex-adjusted models, those with hyperkyphosis were at 1.38-fold increased odds of experiencing an injurious fall (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.91; p = .02) that increased to 1.48 using a cutoff of ≥ 2 blocks versus ≤ 1 blocks (95% CI, 1.10-2.00; p = .01). Although women were more likely to fall, after adjustment for possible confounders, men with moderate hyperkyphosis were at greatest fall risk. Conclusions. Moderate hyperkyphotic posture may signify an easily identifiable independent risk factor for injurious falls in older men, with the association being less pronounced in older women. Copyright 2007 by The Gerontological Society of America.




Kado, D. M., Huang, M. H., Nguyen, C. B., Barrett-Connor, E., & Greendale, G. A. (2007). Hyperkyphotic posture and risk of injurious falls in older persons: The Rancho Bernardo Study. Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 62(6), 652–657. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/62.6.652

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