Pedestrian Accidents in the Elderly

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December 21, 2012
Edward Smith

Elderly pedestrian accidents are not uncommon and quite often they are injured. It usually happens when pedestrians are crossing at crosswalks or when the elderly are getting off or on public buses or taxis. Some drivers drive recklessly and do not recognize when a pedestrian is in the road. They do not recognize that elderly pedestrians walk more slowly than younger people and don’t properly gauge when the pedestrian will get off the street. There can be poorly designed crosswalks and malfunctioning traffic lights.

Even drivers traveling safely at the proper intercity speed can have an accident with a pedestrian that causes a fall in the elderly person and injuries that wouldn’t have happened if the pedestrian were younger. Older pedestrians are more fragile and can get hip fractures, leg fractures, wrist fractures and concussions, even after a slow speed accident.

Seniors also recover more slowly from the injuries they get from a motor vehicle pedestrian accident. They require more care to get better and occasionally never fully regain their pre-injury capacity. There tends to be high medical expenses and high caregiver expenses; sometimes they need to purchase medical equipment. Aged individuals may have to pay some of the expenses out of pocket unless they receive legal compensation.

Walking is sometimes the primary mode of transportation for those people who are considered elderly (over the age of 65). This means that pedestrian injuries are more common and are a great source of morbidity and mortality among this group of people. This study looks at the pattern of injury that these elderly patients have because of a pedestrian injury. It also looks at the differences between elderly injuries and injuries sustained by younger people.

They looked at the following age categories: 15-24 years of age, 25-34 years of age, 35-44 years of age, 45-54 years of age, 55-64 years of age, 65-74 years of age, 75-84 years of age and 85-89 years of age. A total of 79,307 patients were studied. The most common type of injury was the superficial injury at 29 percent of the time. Lower extremity fractures were the next most common at 25 percent and intracranial injuries occurred at a rate of 21 percent. The very elderly patient had greater incidence of pelvic fractures at 16 percent compared to eight percent in younger groups of people. The lower extremity fractures occurred at 31 percent in the elderly as compared to 22 percent of the youth. Intracranial injuries happened at 25 percent in the elderly versus 22 percent in the youth. The elderly had less of a problem with liver injuries. Elderly patients were six to eight times more likely to die at the time of the injury.

Elderly patients are a special class of patients when it comes to being victims of pedestrian motor vehicle accidents. They have an elevated risk of fractures and intracranial injuries when compared to younger people and a considerably high rate of death from accidents as pedestrians.