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Top Tips to Prevent Falls from Shepherd Center’s Director of Injury Prevention and Education

Emma Harrington, director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center, shares her advice to prevent falls, a common cause of brain and spinal cord injuries.

By Emma Harrington, director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries and the second-leading cause of spinal cord injuries. They are not considered a normal part of the aging process. Protect yourself and your loved ones by following these simple steps to reduce the risk of falling.

Top Tips to Prevent Falls

  1. Think twice before climbing that ladder. If you must get on a ladder, please have someone else present to spot you and ensure the ladder is adequately secured. If using a step ladder in the home, make sure it has sturdy grips and is locked in place before reaching up. Climbing on chairs, especially ones with wheels, is a recipe for disaster.
  2. Hire a professional. For outside jobs like cleaning the gutters or painting the house, it’s best to leave it to the experts. Spending the money to have the gutters cleaned is a lot less costly than a catastrophic injury.
  3. Stay healthy and active. Keep up with annual eye exams, hearing exams and physicals, which can alert you and your doctor to problems that might make you more prone to falls. Help maintain muscle tone and core body strength by staying active. Talk with your doctor if you’ve had a fall or think you are at risk of falling. He or she can provide resources. Always be extra careful when drinking alcohol, and do not check your smartphone while walking.
  4. Make modifications to your home. Remove any loose rugs or cords, keep pathways clear, ditch clutter, use motion-activated night lights and keep flashlights handy to help guide you in the dark. Non-slip mats and grab bars, if needed, can help make bathrooms safer.
  5. Wear suitable shoes. Make sure they fit well. Ideally, shoes should have non-skid soles.
  6. Always wear a helmet. If you ride bikes, motorcycles, scooters or horses, protect your head.
  7. Review your medications. Talk with your healthcare team about the list of medications – prescription and over-the-counter – that you take. Sometimes certain medications or combinations of medications can leave you feeling off-balance.
  8. Accept assistance when you need it. If you feel unsteady or unsure, ask for help.
About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.