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Botsford Trauma Services Offers Tips on Preventing Falls

Farmington Hills, Mich. (July 21, 2011)---Botsford Trauma Services Offers Tips on Preventing Falls 
 
Falls: a Public Health Crisis 
 
By Rhonda Thompson, EMT, RN 
 
Falls have become a public health crisis according to the American Trauma Society. They are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among older adults. One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Of those, two out of three will fall again within six months. Of those reported, 20 to 30 percent will sustain moderate to severe injuries, which will prevent them from returning home or living alone again. 
 
As an experienced ER/trauma nurse, I have encountered many traumatic injuries that are direct results of falls. The older adult population surpasses any other age group in this area of injury. Many of these patients end up with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and often do not have good outcomes. This tends to lead to extended hospital stays, longer rehabilitation, permanent disabilities, and death, resulting in extreme health care expenses and strain on medical facilities and families. 
 
Approximately half of the falls occur at home. This is where many older adults spend most of their time. Modification of the living environment can reduce the chances of falling at home. Some of the everyday situations that should be evaluated and possibly modified for fall prevention include: 
 
· Bathroom: Install grab bars and use nonslip mats; do not use towel racks as grab bars. 
Toilets may need raised seats and installed grab bars. 
 
· Stairs: Install hand rails on both sides of the stairs. Install brighter lights and switches at both ends. 
 
· Clutter: Items such as books, clothes, newspapers, and shoes should be removed from any walk areas. 
 
· Rugs: Remove them or use double-sided tape to secure them to the floor including edges and corners. 
 
· Reachable – Keep frequently-used items at levels that are easily reached.  
 
Tell your doctor if you have fallen in the past, have difficulty walking or getting out of bed or chairs, have difficulty maintaining balance while walking, or have been feeling weak or dizzy. The doctor will most likely want to do a fall risk assessment, which should include having your vision checked and a review of your medications. The doctor will look for causative medical conditions, amongst a few.  
 
An exercise routine that include walking and stretching will maintain strength and balance and is a good way to help prevent falls. In the hotter and colder months, indoor malls make good places to walk early in the morning before it gets too busy. Always check with your health care provider before beginning any exercise programs or altering medications so that they can tailor them to your specific needs. 
 
Resources 
www.amtrauma.org 
www.cdc.gov 
www.stopfalls.org 
 
Rhonda Thompson, a licensed EMT and Registered Nurse, is the Injury Prevention Coordinator, for Botsford Hospital Trauma Services. 

Beaumont Health is a not-for-profit organization formed by Beaumont Health System, Botsford Health Care and Oakwood Healthcare to provide high-quality, efficient, accessible services in a caring environment for southeastern Michigan residents and beyond. As one of Beaumont Health's eight hospitals, Botsford Hospital is a multi-specialty 330-bed hospital and verified trauma center located in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The campus also houses an imaging center, a comprehensive care cancer center and an extensive medical education program---part of Michigan State University's Statewide Campus System. Annually, Botsford cares for about 16,000 inpatients and more than 60,000 emergency and trauma patients with a team of approximately 2,500 employees, 300 volunteers and 600 physicians.

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