A major improvement in hospital safety could be realized if serious injury did not accompany falls. We studied several commercially available floor pads made of different materials to determine which (if any) would be practical in a hospital room and reduce injury without posing a threat to the balance of patients.
A multidisciplinary approach was undertaken to (1) measure upper and lower body motion in 17 young (<50 years) and 17 older (>55 years) adults during an instrumented sit to stand test from a hospital bed onto the different floor pads, (2) predict the energy dissipation available in floor pads by quantifying the relative mechanical properties, and (3) obtain professional feedback from hospital nurses via a questionnaire (8 questions) following a period of working on the different floor pads. Five floor pads, composed of foam, gel, and/or rubber were tested. All pads were compared with a typical hospital floor (concrete covered with linoleum tiles, considered the control).
All of the pads subject to mechanical testing showed at least 3 times more energy absorption compared with the control. Balance testing showed that three of the pads resulted in minimal or no significant increases in body motion during sit-to-stand. Nursing feedback revealed that only 2 of these 3 pads may be feasible for hospital room use: one made primarily of firm rubber and one made of foam.
Floor pads do exist that show promise for hospital use that absorbing energy without major impacts on balance during sit-to-stand. Although only commercially available pads were investigated, results may inform the design and multidisciplinary testing of other floor surfaces.