Fall Prevention Month - Time to Review How to Avoid Falls

By Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, general surgeon and Co-Chair of the Trauma Committee at Delta County Memorial Hospital.; Dr. Johnson has been in Delta for over a year and half following his surgical training in Kansas City. Caring for injured patients was a major component of his work in Kansas City and he continues to be dedicated to this aspect of his surgical practice.

"For those of us who take care of trauma patients, we would like to remind the citizens of Delta County about fall prevention month," stated Dr. Jeff Johnson, General Surgeon at Delta County Memorial Hospital. "Everyone falls, let's not kid ourselves. But whether you trip on your shoe lace, fall off of the roof finally getting those Christmas lights down, or slip on a banana peel, falls are no laughing matter and can lead to serious injuries" said the hospital surgeon.

Large studies of emergency room visits suggest at least one third of all ER patients are fall related. "Our youngest (less than 5) trauma patients and oldest members (65 and older) of society are at highest risk of being injured by falls.

Children however, are less likely to require admission to the hospital through the Emergency Department," commented Dr. Johnson. Children generally are injured by falls at home followed by incidents in school. Specifically, baby walkers are being linked to the majority of injuries in younger children and playground/recreational equipment for older school age children.

Adults males are most likely to be injured by falls off ladders, scaffolds, etc. Stairs become more frequent mechanisms of fall injury after age 45. Adult men are most commonly injured by falls before age 65, and for women after age 65. Most of these injuries are not fatal. However, after age 65 risk of injury death from a fall increases dramatically--34 percent at age 65, and 46 percent at age 85. In addition, falls are the most common cause of non-fatal injury in the elderly.

As with many types of emergency department visits, prevention is the most important aspect of avoiding injury. "Keep high risk toys out of reach and try to avoid letting very small children play without supervision" said the hospital surgeon. "Adults need to avoid high risk situations and always do their best to keep themselves safe when performing such unavoidable tasks, like cleaning the gutters, "he stated. "Get your vision checked regularly, and be sure to tell your Doctor about any dizzy spells, feeling light headed or faint. Medication changes are common causes of these symptoms," said Dr. Johnson.

"Just a few simple changes can really help minimize one of the most common reasons to visit the Delta County Memorial Emergency Department, "added Dr. Johnson.

Here is a great list of simple things we can all do around the house to minimize fall risks:

Remove throw rugs
Secure carpet edges
Remove furniture in cluttered rooms
Remove decorative objects and plants from the floor
Remove cords, wires and hoses from walkways
Check lighting for adequate illumination
Secure carpet or treads on stairs
Install handrails on staircases
Eliminate chairs that are low and hard to get into or out of
Avoid using floor wax
Ensure that the telephone can be reached from the floor
Install grab bars in bath tubs or showers (eliminate step in bathtubs if possible)
Use rubber mats in the shower
Hang up floor mats when the shower is not in use
Use a raised toilet seat
Repair cracked sidewalks and always remove snow and ice
Trims shrubs and plants along the pathway
Be sure doorways and walkways are adequately lit
Wear stable lace-up footwear with a non-skid sole
Wear a life alert device that will alert help in the case a fall occurs