Taking a fall can be a serious situation regardless of the scenario or your age. Many people presume that falls only happen during wet and icy conditions, but the truth is that falls happen everyday in all sorts of environments, to everyone. The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that “over 80,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture” and that “one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head injury.”
What happens when a break occurs during a fall?
80% of 80-year-olds die after a fall with trauma to the hip, thigh, tibia, femur, or lower extremity big bone injury. Bones are typically surrounded by blood and fatty tissue and when a break occurs that fat and blood can enter and travel through the blood stream causing blockage and clots. The fracture itself may allow fat globules to be sent through the blood stream to vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain where clotting at those locations can occur. Interruption of blood flow can result in death or a stroke.
A secondary risk that can happen after a fall can occur after treatment when the victim finds themselves in the hospital. In the hospital bed and any sedentary lifestyle or the inactivity in the hospital (or at home) post-injury further complicates and potentiates a greater possibility of clot or emboli. Dehydration and not eating enough, inactivity of the veins, valves, vascular passageways due to ‘resting’ and limited movement can cause another clot to occur.
Hospitals and post-fall conditions should allow movement and pumps for blood flow, regular hydration, and physical therapy to keep the body and blood moving per the specifics of each case. Muscles massage the veins and vessels through movement and help pump the blood to and from the heart. This can take pressure off the heart’s ability to pump blood and nutrients out to the rest of the body with reduced risk of a clot.
What factors can complicate the injuries from a fall?
- Older age
- Bad Cholesterol
- Smoking / Tobacco use
- Birth control
- Vascular issues
- Overweight / Obesity
- Osteoporosis / Osteopenia
Ways to reduce a clot or complication after a fall injury
- Clotting medicines
- Blood thinners used post op
- Light, safe activity
- A balanced diet
- Blood and fluid pumps
- Regular movement
Fall Prevention 101
There are many habits you can undertake to make your day-to-day less risky for having a fall. Going to physical therapy can teach you valuable skills in fall prevention. Your trainer or physical therapist may teach you sit-to-stand exercises, proper techniques for standing up, how to get yourself out of a fall after falling, in addition to flexibility and strengthening routines that will allow for improved balance and stability against accidental falls.
Many health insurance companies may cover some of the costs associated with fall prevention therapy programs. It is always encouraged to ask your insurance company if they are affiliated with any such preventative therapy courses.
You can prepare you living and work spaces in ways that will reduce the risk of fall and tripping. Getting rid of loose or bumpy rugs, especially the ones associated with hardwood floors can reduce the chance of varying surfaces from interrupting your stride and movement when your walk. Using the proper footwear is vital to fall prevention. Make sure your shoes aren’t too heavy and bulky, preferring a smoother tread so as to not catch it on varying surfaces beneath. Some people use braces and stabilizing hosiery that comfortably secure the foot, ankle, and leg against looseness and vulnerability. Assuring that the places you walk are well lit can allow everyone to see where they’re going and ultimately may reduce the chances of shadows or dim light that hide any floor obstruction that could be easily tripped upon.
We encourage you to talk to your podiatrist about fall prevention. It is much better to be preventative in your injuries than reactive. If you prepare against falls, you will be much stronger if the situation every arises.