Falls Prevention Awareness Day
- Posted on: Sep 18 2019
Did you know that September 23 is Fall Prevention Awareness Day? Though our facilities provide diagnostic imaging services after any injuries, we’re all about education and preventing common injuries when possible. With this in mind, we wanted to explore the most common causes of falls, injuries that can occur as a result of falls, and how they are diagnosed.
Fall Prevention Awareness Day – Common Causes of Falls
According to the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, “Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma.” They went on to say that “At the heart of this [awareness day] initiative is the message that falls are preventable.” The question is, what is it that causes so many falls, and how can one prevent them from occurring?
The most common causes of falls include, but aren’t limited to:
- Medication that can make you feel dizzy, slow, or confused
- Vision problems
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Weakness in your muscles – The most at-risk area for muscle weakness is in your legs. When your leg muscles are weak, it can make it difficult to get up from a seated position and/or can make balancing while standing or leaning on surfaces hard to do.
- General balancing problems – Balancing problems can occur due to inner ear problems, ear infection, strokes, head injury, problems with blood circulation, etc…
- Overconsumption of alcohol or drugs
- Slow reflexes
- Illnesses and diseases such as diabetes, neuropathy, or low blood pressure
- Vision problems that make it difficult to see what’s directly in front of you and/or distort your surroundings
- Slipping/tripping as a result of loss in traction or footing
For some people, the best ways to prevent falls include:
- Vision tests – Simply changing or tweaking an eyeglasses prescription can make it easier to see your surroundings
- Changing medications to stop dizziness and feelings that make one prone to falls
- Physical therapy and/or general exercise to strengthen muscles
- Diagnostic testing such as CT scans and MRIs can help to determine whether or not a patient has had a stroke or brain injury that could be contributing to falls
- Cease the consumption of drugs and alcohol
- Removing clutter from an area frequently traveled, especially stairways and walkways
- Have a handyman correct uneven surfaces in your home
- If you are using rugs, be sure to use a rug gripper under them to secure rugs to the floor to prevent slipping
- Add extra lighting to dimly lit walkways
- Install support bars in the bathroom, in the bathtub, on the stairs, and even in walkways
- If necessary, use a walker or a cane to help you keep your balance
- There are two types of canes you can consider – single point and quad. A quad cane has a base and four feet. Some people prefer a quad cane because it gives them more stability than a single point cane does.
- Keep the items you use the most frequently close by – Reaching high above or bending low to the ground can cause one to lose their balance
While the ideas above may help prevent some falls, you may also want to visit your primary care doctor for a complete physical to see if some other factor is at play.
Fall Prevention Awareness Day – Injuries That Can Result From Falling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, “One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.” They also said, “Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries,” and “Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.”
The most common injuries that occur after a fall include:
- Broken bones – typically broken bones due to falls are hip fractures, arms, wrists, and ankles
- Head injuries – the most common of which is called a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- TBIs may be minor concussions that can heal with some rest, but in the worst cases, TBIs can cause cognitive impairment, seizures, mood changes, and even death
- Damage to the nerves
- Spinal damage
- Shoulder dislocation
- Muscle strain
- Sprained ankles
- Knee damage
- Cuts and bruises
How injuries from falls are diagnosed:
How you fell and the areas of your body that were impacted at the time of the fall may determine which diagnostic tests are required to determine the extent of your injury. For example, if it is suspected you have a broken bone, you may just need a simple X-ray to determine what is broken, and how severe the break is.
If a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is suspected, your doctor may prescribe a CT Scan (Computed Tomography), in order to determine its severity. A CT Scan can take X-rays from many angles and quickly show if there is any bleeding in the brain, bruising of the brain tissues, and/or any other damage. For follow up tests related to a TBI, your doctor may prescribe an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test to give a more thorough diagnosis as MRIs provide a more detailed image than a CT Scan can.
Should your fall result in joint or knee pain, an arthrogram exam may be prescribed. Though an X-ray can show a break, they sometimes don’t show enough detail to determine the complete diagnosis after a fall. During an arthrogram, you will have a special dye injected into your joint, and then your joint will be observed through a process called live X-Ray Fluoroscopy. This test shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor, much like an X-ray movie. During a fluoroscopy procedure, an X-ray beam is passed through the body. The image is transmitted to a monitor so the movement of a body part or of an instrument or contrast agent (“X-ray dye”) through the body can be seen in detail.
What Can You Do This Falls Prevention Day?
As we mentioned earlier in this post, many falls are preventable. One way you can help prevent falls is to take action on the suggestions we gave to help you and your loved ones avoid them. Please help us spread the word about fall prevention by sharing this post.