The most common cause of injury seen in emergency rooms in the United States, falls can occur at any age. Though many falls are harmless, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury. It is estimated that around 7.9 million emergency room visits a year are due to falls. Injuries caused by a fall can be detrimental to anyone, especially the elderly. And once a fall does occur, even if it does not cause an injury, it can cause a fear of falling. This fear may result in one changing their daily routine or cutting down on everyday activities to avoid another fall. However, when a person becomes excessively tentative and less active, they become weaker, which in turn increases their chances of falling and getting injured.
Who Is At Risk for a Fall?
Certainly, age is a big factor and the elderly are more prone to falls. Fall injuries requiring medical attention rise exponentially from age 18 on. There are many risk factors involved that affect both young and old alike.
- Chronic illness, underlying ailments
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Medications, such as blood pressure medications, tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, and use of multiple medications.
- Vision difficulty
- Foot pain or improper footwear
- Home hazards or dangers like- broken or uneven steps or sidewalks, scatter rugs, shoes or toys on the floor, no handrails on stairs or in the bathroom.
A combination of these factors is what causes most falls. Many of these risks are preventable or can be lessened. The more factors that come in to play, the higher the likelihood of a fall. For help with decreasing some of these risk factors, one should consult with their physician.
Steps to prevent a fall
- Wear appropriate footwear especially in snowy and icy conditions
- Improve balance by adding activities such as Tai Chi
- Review medications with your doctor on a yearly basis
- Make safety revisions to your home, such adding lighting, railings or grab bars in the bathroom
- Have your eyes checked on a yearly basis
- Incorporate regular exercise including strength building exercises and stretching to stay limber
- Slow down
The “Right” Way to Fall- Tips from the “Experts”
According to paratroopers, stunt professionals, and physical therapists, there is actually a “right way” to fall. They should know. Jessica Schwartz, a physical therapist in NYC, who trains athletes and those with prosthetics to “safely” fall, says the number one thing to remember is to protect your head. If you find yourself falling, try to pivot to your side and tuck in your head. Falling straight forward or backward can cause more injury. A tip of advice from a stuntman is to “aim for the meat, not bone”, meaning try to bend your elbows and knees and try to take the hit on the fleshiest part of your body, like the side of your thigh, buttocks, and shoulder. A paratrooper’s goal is to fall sideways and “not fight the fall, but just to roll with it”. Try to stay loose and pliable, like a child might do during a tumble, not tensing up and becoming rigid. All the experts agree that the most important key in sustaining a fall is being in good physical condition to begin with.
What To Do After a Fall
Inevitably, you will fall and hopefully it won’t be serious. Falls are the most common cause of injury seen in emergency rooms in the U.S. and can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures. Falls can cause head or brain injuries, which can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). A person who falls and hits their head needs to seek medical attention right away. As the American population ages, we will see more injuries caused by falls. Even in nursing homes, which are skilled in helping to prevent falls, injuries can still happen. If an injury caused by a fall occurs at a nursing home, it may be found negligent of failing to “provide a safe environment” or improper supervision.
A fall can happen to anyone, and anywhere. Young and old, on a public sidewalk, in a nursing home, or in the privacy of your own home. A serious fall can have lifelong repercussions that make it hard for a person to get around, work their normal job, do everyday activities, or live on their own. How will you take care of your family if you are injured and can’t work? How will you pay your bills? These are all very important questions that arise after a debilitating injury. If you or a loved one have been injured in a fall in Rhode Island or in Massachusetts, whether it be on an icy sidewalk or in a nursing home, you need legal advice. Call a RI Personal Injury Attorney. At Tapalian Law, we help those injured in falls every day. We will meet with you to assess your case, for free. We receive no money unless you receive money for your injuries. There are time limits on your personal injury claim, call Attorney David Tapalian today at 401-552-5000 or contact Tapalian Law via our online contact form.