Injuries, falls and accidents among adults with intellectual disabilities. Prospective cohort study


Professor Sally-Ann Cooper, Section of Psychological Medicine, Division of Community Based Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow, Academic Centre, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, UK (e-mail:


Background  Injuries are among the leading causes of death and disability in the world and a major public health concern. Falls are a common cause. Young persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) have a higher rate and different pattern of injuries than the general population, but little is known regarding adults.

Methods  The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and types of injuries experienced by a community-based cohort of adults with ID (n = 511) in a 12-month period. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with participants 2 years after they had first been recruited into a longitudinal study.

Results  Incidence of at least one injury in a 12-month period was 20.5% (105), of which 12.1% (62) was because of falls. Incident injury was predicted by having epilepsy and not having autism. Incident fall injury was predicted by urinary incontinence, while Down syndrome reduced risk.

Conclusions  Adults with ID do experience a higher rate of injuries and falls when compared with the general population. The results of this study highlight this, and hence the need to work towards the development of interventions for injury and falls prevention in this population.