Practice Fall Prevention During Trauma Prevention Month And All Year Long

At Summit Orthopedics, we are committed to injury prevention education. The month of May has been designated as a time dedicated to the prevention of predictable and avoidable injuries. Today we are focused on a cause of trauma injury that is of particular concern to Minnesotans: accidental falls.

Trauma is ranked third among annual causes of death nationwide, and traumatic injury from accidental falls contributes to those fatalities. Falling risks are disproportionately high for Minnesotans. A Stateline analysis of CDC data revealed that the percentage of fall-related injuries in our state is twice as high as it is nationally. Our elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Although we don’t know exactly why Minnesotans fall so often, we do have information about risk factors, and what you can do to prevent falls.

  • As you age, you may find that you struggle more with vision, balance, strength, and ability to react quickly. You can address these issues by getting an annual eye exam and establishing a regular exercise program.
  • Excessive drinking and cigarette smoking take a toll on bone strength. You can protect your bones and reduce your fall risk by monitoring your alcohol use and choosing not to smoke.
  • Lack of exercise. When you don’t exercise, your sense of balance decreases and you lose coordination and bone and muscle strength. You can act to prevent these losses by engaging in an exercise program focused on agility, strength, balance, and coordination. Activities like climbing stairs, dancing, and weight training help to build bone strength. Studies have shown that walking 6,000 steps a day can significantly reduce your risk of a fall and hip fracture.
  • A poor diet and inadequate hydration deplete your strength and make it harder to move and perform your daily tasks. Maintaining a nutritious diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D is good for your bones and your energy level.
  • Medical vulnerability. Conditions like osteoporosis, heart and blood pressure issues, arthritis, vision loss, and medication side effects can put you at higher risk for a fall-related injury. During your annual physical, ask to be evaluated for cardiac and blood pressure problems that increase fall risks. Talk with your doctor about exploring alternatives to medications with side effects like fatigue or confusion.
  • Home conditions. Most fractures are the result of a fall in the home, and the elderly are particularly at risk. Keep clutter off the floors and arrange furniture so that traffic pathways are clear, free of electrical cords, and easy to navigate. Make sure rooms, stairs, and hallways are well lit. Secure area rugs and remove unstable throw rugs.
  • Secure footing is the safest. Choose low-heeled shoes that fit and feature nonskid soles. Tie shoelaces securely. Don’t make a habit of walking around in slippery stocking feet.

When a fall does happen, Summit physicians, surgeons, and physical therapists are ready to help with personalized medical care and a rehabilitation program tailored to safely return you to the lifestyle you enjoy. We are committed to helping you reclaim your health, but we’d prefer to help you prevent fall injuries from ever happening. Focusing on just a few of these prevention measures can reduce your fall risks and keep you safely engaged in your favorite Minnesota pastimes.

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