Falls Present Risk of Spinal Cord and Brain Injuries
Shepherd Center’s director of injury prevention and education provides tips for preventing falls.
In 2017, falls were the leading cause of death and injury hospitalizations for people 65 and older in Georgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Falls are also one of the most common mechanisms of injury for both spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. While injuries from falls disproportionally affect children and older adults, there are a few things we can all keep in mind to stay safe. A majority of fall injuries occur inside and outside of the home. Emma Harrington, director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center recommends these steps to prevent falls:
- Use nightlights in rooms of people of all ages. Lighting the way to the bathroom or other rooms at night can help reduce falls.
- When decorating for the holidays, if you have to use a step stool, make sure it is sturdy and has grips at the base. Preferably, use a step stool that has a grab bar. If you are decorating, make sure a friend or family member is nearby so that if you do fall, someone can help and/or call for help.
- When decorating, avoid trip hazards. Keep holiday lights and extension cords tidy and off of the floors.
- Ditch area rugs, especially when they are not stuck to the ground and have curled edges.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom – in the tub and next to the toilet if needed.
- Do not get up on your roof for routine maintenance of the roof or gutters. There are companies that specialize in gutter cleaning and roof repairs. Use the experts!
- Avoid alcohol when at any height. This is especially true for deer stands. Annually, there are several deer stand fatalities and injuries resulting from falls.
- If traveling to colder climates during the holidays, please be wary of snow and ice. Wearing proper footwear with a sturdy grip is a must. Salt all pathways that have been covered in ice and/or snow, and use caution. Remember you can’t see black ice until you are right on top of it.
- Get your vision checked annually and your prescription updated. Also, have your pharmacist/ doctor check all of your medications for interactions. Include any herbal remedies you may be taking.
- Stay active! Maintaining core strength can go a long way in preventing injuries and easing recovery after injury.
For more information on Shepherd Center’s Injury Prevention Program, visit shepherd.org/injuryprevention.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.