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Young Women At Higher Risk Of Stair Injuries Due To Risky Behaviors, Study Finds

New research reveals young women are almost twice as likely to suffer stair-related injuries compared to men of the same age.

Young women are almost twice as likely to suffer an injury walking downstairs as men of the same age, reveals new research.

Researchers found that women in their twenties were more likely to engage in distracting “risky behaviors” – such as multitasking or holding a conversation – while descending stairs compared to young men.

“Falling on the stairs is more likely to result in injuries than other types of falls,” said scientists.

The three groups of people most likely to fall on the stairs are children under three years of age, adults in their 20s, and adults over the age of 85.

Summary of risky behaviors on two staircases (a two-step and a 17-step staircase); blue represents men and red represents women. Red circles depict behaviors observed more frequently in women, and blue circles depict behaviors observed more frequently in men. Figures in circles represent (clockwise from top): talking to a colleague, walking with a colleague, carrying item in hand(s), not using the handrail, using electronic device, deliberately skipping steps, and having hands in pockets. HYEYOUNG CHO VIA SWNS.

In the young adult group specifically, women are injured 80 percent more often than men – the highest injury rate across all ages and sexes except for women aged over 80.

To examine why young women sustain so many stair-related injuries compared to young men, researchers videotaped two indoor staircases on a US university campus, one short (two steps) and one long (17 steps) over the course of a semester.

They analyzed 2,400 young adults recorded on either the short staircase or long staircase and identified eight “risky” behaviors: no handrail use; not watching the stairs while descending; wearing sandals, flip-flops, or high heels; having an in-person or smartphone conversation; using an electronic device; hands in pockets; holding something; and skipping steps.

The research team also identified five participants who lost their balance, all of whom recovered: four were men, on the long staircase, and one was a woman, on the short staircase.

“The young women we observed demonstrated more risky behaviors than the young men,” said study co-author Professor Shirley Rietdyk, of Purdue University.

Women were less likely to skip steps and more likely to look at the stair tread during transition steps than men. BRIAN MACHADO VIA PEXELS.

“Women were significantly less likely to use the handrail), more likely to be holding something in their hands, more likely to be engaged in conversation, more likely to wear sandals and heels, and also demonstrated a higher number of co-occurring risky behaviours.

She said previous research has shown that women tend to interact more closely with colleagues, presumably why so many of the people engaging in in-person conversations on the stairs were women.

“Overall, the results suggest that women are often multitasking and therefore possibly distracted while descending the stairs – and that this might be more dangerous than skipping steps or not looking at the stairs, the behaviors more often seen in young men in this study,” said Rietdyk. 

She added: “Future studies should also examine physiological differences that may lead to greater injury risk, such as differences in strength or reaction time.”

The findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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