Objectives: To determine whether Yaktrax Walker (YW), a nonmedical gait-stabilizing device, prevents outdoor falls and injurious falls in fall-prone older people during the winter.
Design: Prospective, randomized, interventional trial.
Setting: Community-based, northern United States, winter, outdoors.
Participants: Ambulatory, community-dwelling, fall-prone people aged 65 and older.
Intervention: Participants were randomized to wear YW or their usual winter footwear (UWF) outdoors during the winter of 2003/2004.
Measurements: The number of indoor and outdoor slips, falls, and injurious falls was recorded daily in a fall diary. Winter footwear satisfaction survey was completed after study completion.
Results: One hundred nine subjects completed 10,724 diary days. Mean age was 74.2. There were 93 indoor slips, 13 indoor falls, 714 outdoor slips, and 62 outdoor falls. The tendency for both groups to slip/fall indoors was comparable. The relative risk (RR) of outdoor slip for YW was 0.50 (P<.04) for all diary days and 0.61 (P=.14) when only days walked on snow and ice was the exposure variable. The RR of outdoor fall for YW was 0.42 (P<.03) when only days walked on snow and ice was the exposure variable. RR of injurious falls per day walked on snow and ice for YW was 0.13 (P<.02). Twelve of 19 outdoor falls occurred when YW subjects were not wearing their assigned device. No serious injury or fracture occurred in either group. The number needed to treat for the YW to prevent one nonserious injurious fall in one winter was six.
Conclusion: YW may reduce the risk of outdoor winter falls, and of nonserious injurious falls, in older community-dwelling people with a history of previous falls.