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Introduction: Several footwear characteristics have been shown to affect balance and gait patterns and may therefore influence the risk of falling in older adults. However, attributing a link between footwear and falls is inherently difficult as it often relies on self-report which may be inaccurate. Methods: Archival video recordings of falls that occurred in two long-term residential aged care facilities were initially screened to determine whether the footwear worn at the time (barefoot, socks, slippers/sandals, or shoes) could be documented. These falls were then independently evaluated by three additional assessors and a meeting was held to obtain consensus in relation to whether the footwear could have potentially contributed to the fall, and what mechanism may have been responsible. Cross-tabulations were performed in relation to footwear type and falls characteristics (proposed mechanism and fall direction). Results: There were 300 falls experienced by 118 older adults aged 58 years to 98 years (mean age 82.8 years, SD 7.6). Of these falls, footwear could be ascertained in 224 (75%). After the consensus meeting, the proportion of falls considered to be potentially related to footwear was 40 (18%). The likelihood of footwear contributing to the fall was highest when participants were wearing socks (14/19 falls; 74% of all footwear-related falls), followed by being barefoot (2/6 falls; 33%), wearing slippers/sandals (17/100 falls; 17%) and wearing shoes (7/99 falls, 7%). Conclusion: Footwear could be a potential contributor to a substantial number of falls in residential aged care. Wearing socks would appear to place an older person at risk of future falls and should therefore be avoided in this population.

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