Trauma prevention and awareness within the community is a large part of the work done by TraumaOne. Chad McIntyre, manager of Trauma and Flight Services, and his team work as part of UF Health Jacksonville’s Trauma Prevention Program, educating people on important safety topics to reduce the number and severity of injuries. Most recently, the team has been focusing their education efforts on fall prevention.
“Falls are big deal for elderly people because it’s not just about injuries, it’s about losing their independence,” McIntyre explained. “Once they fall, people start believing that they can’t stay in their home anymore.”
This potential loss of freedom is why some elderly people don’t disclose they have previously fallen to family members or health care workers. However, even a seemingly minor fall can sometimes produce catastrophic results.
“After falling, it’s common for older people to have a small bleed in their head and by the time they come to the hospital, most don’t survive,” McIntyre explained. This is why it’s extremely important to be seen by a physician after any fall.
In Florida during 2014, 2,764 people had fatal injuries due to accidental falls, and 100 of those happened in Duval County. Of those 100, 65 people were 55 years or older, and 36 were 85 years or older.
McIntyre suggests following the below recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, along with being compliant with prescribed medications so as to not induce dizziness.
According to the CDC, there are four ways to prevent falls:
1. Exercise to improve balance and strength
2. Have a health care provider review medications
3. Have vision checked
4. Make the home safer
Because half of all falls happen at home, the CDC also recommends removing items that are easy to trip over, such as papers, books, clothes and shoes. They also recommend removing small throw rugs or using double-sided tape to keep them from slipping.
If you or someone you know has recently suffered a fall, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians by calling 904-244-0411 or visiting UFHealthJax.org/primary-care.