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Medics call for DIY warning after hospital sees ladder-related injuries triple during Covid lockdown

The recommendation was made as part of a new study by Irish researchers.

Image: Shutterstock/PR Image Factory

A GROUP OF medical researchers say the government should issue a warning about the dangers of DIY after a rise in domestic-related injuries during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The recommendation was made as part of a new study, published this month in the British journal Bone and Joint Open.

It looked at patients who presented to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown with traumatic injuries during the first month of the nationwide lockdown.

The researchers found that although the overall number of trauma presentations to the hospital compared with the same period last year, the number of domestic injuries rose.

They specifically noted that the number of people who reported falling from ladders tripled year-on-year, saying “specific warnings” about the dangers of DIY during lockdown, and in particular ladder safety, should be considered.

“While the goal of this lockdown was to curtail the spread of this deadly pandemic, it appears to have had knock-on effects on the incidence of traumatic injuries in Ireland,” the authors said.

The study aimed to quantify the overall impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on trauma presentations to a general hospital in Ireland.

It followed similar research from New Zealand and the UK, which showed similar falls in the number of trauma cases presenting during lockdowns in those countries.

The researchers compared all presentations to the emergency department at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin between 27 March and 27 April and the same period in 2019.

They chose 27 March as the start date because it was the beginning of the nationwide lockdown aimed at “flattening the curve”.

The study found that a total of 136 patients presented to the hospital’s emergency department with traumatic injuries during the first month of lockdown.

Overall, this was a 22% decrease on the figure for the same period last year.

There was also a 62% reduction in sports-related injuries, a 60% fall in injuries relating to traffic accidents, a 43% drop in assault-related injuries, and a 20% decrease in injuries due to blunt trauma.

Although there was almost no change in the number of people over the age of 65 who presented to the hospital with a traumatic injury, the number of people aged between 16 and 64 fell by almost a third (31%).

And the number of people injured on public roads and other public spaces, as well as in public buildings and workplaces, all fell when compared with the same period in 2019.

Possible redeployment of doctors

However, the authors noted a 17% increase in the number of patients who sustained trauma because of domestic accidents compared to last year.

The number of people who were injured after falling down stairs more than doubled from five to 11, while the number of those who fell from a height of more than 2 metres rose by 70% from 3 to 10.

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The authors specifically noted that reports of falls from ladders at home tripled, although they said the results were not particularly significant due to the small numbers involved.

Discussing their findings, the researchers claimed the study had important public health implications.

“While instituting a national lockdown has predictably led to a decrease in trauma among the more mobile under 65 years population, trauma rates among the elderly remain unchanged and rates of domestic injuries have increased,” they wrote.

They called for the government to emphasise the preventable nature of falls and to aim to reduce the rate of falls among the elderly in the coming months.

They said that doing so would reduce the strain on the health system if future lockdowns were required.

And they also suggested that the overall fall in trauma admissions during lockdown could allow some orthopaedic doctors to be temporarily redeployed to areas of higher demand if the need arose again.

“This paper could have important implications at both a local and national level, and allow for appropriate division of resources and planning of trauma services over the coming months and into the future if further lockdowns are required,” they concluded.

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