A profile of elderly fallers referred for physiotherapy in the emergency department of a Dublin teaching hospital.

Ireland has an ageing population and the elderly are over-represented in Emergency Departments (ED)--a quarter of these presentations resulting from falls. A prospective study design was employed using a convenience sample to profile elderly fallers referred for physiotherapy in ED. Forty-subjects were assessed over 14 weeks. Mean age was 84.88 years (s.d. 7.3) and 31 (77.5%) were female. All demonstrated slow walking speed and 26 (65%) demonstrated poor grip strength. A quarter of subjects reported fear of falling and 30 (75%) were classified as frail. Elderly fallers in ED are a frail group of socially vulnerable patients who demonstrate a risk of further falls. Osteoporosis had been diagnosed in 9 (22.5%) subjects--a low prevalence compared with international research, but 25 (62.5%) subjects had never had a DEXA scan. The prevalence of frailty in the sample of elderly fallers in this study was very high (75%).