Falls – Causes, Risks and Prevention

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A fall is a common accident that usually occurs once an individual loses his/her balance, slips or trips and makes contact with the ground or another surface. Take note that falls can occur from a standing position or they can occur from a surface such as a ladder or bed.

Falls are quite common and the main cause of injury. Some of the falls are serious especially for the sick and elderly. Young children and the elderly are at high risk for falls. The elderly have lost strength, balance and flexibility with age while young children have not yet fully developed their strength and flexibility.

Causes of falls

Always remember that falls can be caused by various factors. In most cases, a fall can occur due to lack of balance. Certain diseases and poor health such as heart diseases and diabetes can lead to balance problems. Even nervous system disorders, circulatory problems and thyroid issues are also known to affect the balance. Individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol have balance problems, thus leading to falls.

An injury after a fall

Dizziness is also another cause of falls. This can result from eye problems, illness, and intoxication or hearing issues. Medications that cause side effects such as dizziness can also lead to falls.

Falls are also common in walkways that have a lot of clutter or debris as well as on uneven surfaces, stairs and wet surfaces.

Who are at risk for falls?

Falls always have the risk of serious injury. The risks are serious for the elderly. Falls have been the common cause of broken bones, especially hip fractures among individuals with osteoporosis or brittle bones. Among the elderly, these injuries are difficult to treat and often do not heal completely.

In healthy individuals, falls can result to various injuries including joint sprains, muscle strains, cuts, broken bones, head injuries and bruises. The severity of the injury depends on the type of the fall, distance fallen and the surface landed on.

If the individual has suffered from a fall that has a concussion, bone fracture or any serious injury, it is important to seek emergency assistance right away.

How to prevent falls

There are different ways to prevent the occurrence of falls. Initially, it is important to exercise on a regular basis and maintain bone and muscle strength. The bone strength can be maintained with weight bearing exercises along with proper intake of calcium and vitamin D. Other physical activities such as yoga can help improve the balance.

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At home, it is important to remove any obstacles in the pathways and make sure that all areas are given proper lighting. The stairs should have handrails for safety. You can even add non-slip mats under rugs and always clean up any spills or leaking water right away. If there are children present, it is vital to install gates at the top and base of staircases.

Wearing shoes that have proper grip should be used especially for the elderly and they should avoid uneven terrain such as cobblestone pathways and cracked sidewalks. The eyesight and hearing should be checked every year. It is best to consult with your doctor in case there are problems with your feet or legs that can lead to an unsteady gait.

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