media release

Video analysis reveals how and why elderly fall

October 16, 2012

Stephen Robinovitch, SFU Kinesiology, 604.808.5604 (cell),
Yijian Yang, SFU Kinesiology, 778.317.0882 (cell),
Fabio Feldman, Fraser Health Authority and SFU Kinesiology, 604.807.6308 (cell),
Ming Leung, Fraser Health Falls & Injury Prevention, 604.587.7850 x4847,
Dixon Tam, SFU media relations, 778.782.8742,

(Please note that Yijian Yang is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, while Ming Leung is fluent in Cantonese.)

Unedited HD video interview with Stephen Robinovitch and B-roll of video footage analyzed in study
Link to FTP server:
(Username: media | Password: sfumedia)

Edited HD video interview with Stephen Robinovitch:

High-resolution photo of Stephen Robinovitch:

Simon Fraser University’s Stephen Robinovitch and Fraser Health’s Fabio Feldman are the lead researchers of a new study that uses video footage for the first time to analyze how and why the elderly fall.

The research, published in The Lancet journal, focused on two basic questions related to how falls were initiated that have traditionally been difficult to understand: what was the person doing at the time of the fall, and how they lost their balance.

“Our analysis included 227 falls experienced by 130 individuals, having a mean age of 78 years,” says Robinovitch, a professor with SFU Kinesiology. “We found the most frequent cause of falling was incorrect weight shifting, which accounted for 41 per cent of falls, followed by tripping or stumbling, being hit or bumped, loss of support with an external object, and collapsing.

“Slipping accounted for only three per cent of falls. Three activities – walking, sitting down, and standing – tied in being most commonly associated with falls.”

Delta View and New Vista – two long-term care facilities with operational ties to Fraser Health – were used in the study. Digital footage from video cameras installed in common areas – dining rooms, hallways, lounges, etc. – was analyzed and cross-referenced with incident reports of people falling.

“Analogous to how engineers use black boxes to understand airplane crashes, we used the video footage to generate important new knowledge on the cause and prevention of falls,” says Robinovitch. “We analyzed each video through a structured questionnaire, completed by a team of experts. Our work in this area is unique internationally.”

Falls are the number-one cause of injury and among the top-10 causes of deaths of older adults in Canada.

“Results from this study provide the first comprehensive evidence, based on video, of the cause and circumstances of falls by older adults,” says Feldman, who is Fraser Health’s manager for Falls and Injury Prevention and also an SFU researcher. “They also illustrate important new avenues for prevention, including improvements in the design of walkers and wheelchairs, elimination of tripping hazards, and task-specific exercise programs.”

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health services to the largest and fastest growing population in B.C. The health authority is committed to improving the health of the population and the quality of life of more than 1.6 million people living in communities from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

Fraser Health: Better Health. Best in Health Care.

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