Falls

Falls are the number one cause of home injuries in the U.S. The two groups most at risk for falls are children under the age 5 and adults over the age of 70. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19. Every day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of older people–those 65 and older–fall. One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in the emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths. Typical injury symptoms are sharp pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness.

What Can You Do?

Although many falls result in mild bumps, cuts, and bruises, some can cause serious injuries that need immediate medical attention.

Call 911 for emergency help if the child or adult:

● Has seriously injured the head, neck, back, hipbones, or thighs
● Is unconscious
● Has trouble breathing
● Isn’t breathing (start CPR if you know how to do so)
● Has a seizure

If the child or adult isn’t vomiting and doesn’t have any of the symptoms above:

● Comfort them and look for any injuries.
● Place a cold compress or ice pack on any bumps or bruises.
● Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, if alert.
● Let them rest, as needed, for the next few hours.
● Watch them closely for the next 24 hours for any unusual symptoms or behavior.

Get medical care if they:

● Become very sleepy or are difficult to wake up
● Become easily annoyed or upset and cannot be comforted
● Vomit more than once
● Complain of head, neck, or back pain
● Complain of increasing pain anywhere
● Are not walking normally
● Do not seem to be focusing his or her eyes normally
● Have any behavior or symptoms that worry you

How Can You Safeguard Your House From Slips, Trips, and Falls?

There are simple, practical measures you can take to prevent slips, trips and falls in your house including:

● Clean up spills immediately in the kitchen and bathroom, or on hardwood floors.
● Clear clutter and obstacles from hallways and walkways.
● Close cabinet and desk drawers when not in use.
● Replace burnt out light bulbs promptly.
● Replace worn-out flooring, loose carpet, slippery throw rugs and wooden floorboards that are sticking up.

How Can You Prevent Falls for Children?

There are several things you can do to prevent falls for children including:

● Never leave infants and young children on a bed or any other furniture unsupervised.
● Never put an infant in a baby seat on top of a counter or other high surface.
● Childproof against falls with gates and don’t use walkers.
● Always strap young kids into high chairs, changing tables, shopping carts, and strollers.
● Make sure kids always wear helmets when biking, skating and using skateboards or scooters.

How Can You Prevent Falls for the Elderly?

As you age, you become more susceptible to slips, trips, and falls because eyesight, hearing, and balance tend to worsen. Medication can also cause imbalance and confusion, which can lead to falls.

To prevent slips, trips and falls as you age, consider these safety tips:

● Stay physically active to maintain strength, healthy bones and balance. Those with limited mobility may need approved and supervised exercises. Some exercise can be done while sitting in your chair!
● Have your eyesight and hearing checked regularly
● Know the side effects of your medication. Talk to your doctor if your medicine makes you feel dizzy, sleepy or confused.
● Get enough sleep.
● Limit how much alcohol you drink.
● Use a cane or walker as needed, especially when walking in an unknown area or an area with an uneven surface.
● Wear non-skid shoes. Be sure your shoes fit well and are comfortable.
● Install non-slip strips or mats on the floor of the bathtub or shower.
● Arrange furniture with enough space to open up the walking area. This is very beneficial to those using walkers or canes.
● Install a nightlight in your bedroom/restroom areas. Have appropriate lighting in all areas of the home.
● Use assistive devices: install handrails in hallways and grab bars in shower and bath areas. Install raised toilet seats.
● Know your limitations and stay within them.

What Are The Risk Factors for Falls in the Elderly?

Risk factors for falls in the elderly include increasing age, medication use, cognitive impairment, and sensory deficits.

How Are Elderly Patients Who Fall Evaluated?

Elderly patients who have fallen should undergo a thorough evaluation that includes a focused history with an emphasis on medications, a directed physical examination and simple tests of postural control and overall physical function. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of the fall and can return the patient to baseline function and reduce the risk of recurrent falls.

Since falls can be the result of certain inner ear balance disorders, which create vertigo or other forms of disequilibrium, patients may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist and clinical audiologist for evaluation and vestibular (inner ear) testing.

What Can Go To Ortho Do for You?

Go To Ortho provides full-service trauma care. We are board certified orthopedic surgeons with privileges at all major hospitals in Portland, including some surgery centers.

When slips, trips, and falls cause:

● Fractures and breaks
● Knee and shoulder injuries
● Hip and pelvic injuries
● Hand injuries
● Sprains and strains

Come see us

Come visit us at Go To Ortho for quick-care orthopedic injury treatment.

Sources

1. https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/falls/index.html
2. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

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