Posted on September 28, 2011 to AOC Physician Articles
Dr. Michael L. Granberry, MD says every year, one in three people over 65 years of age falls, and those falls can result in major injuries. Some of the injuries can be very severe. In fact, 19,700 people died as the result of unintentional falls in 2008.
Minor injuries can also occur during a fall. Those injuries could include bleeding and skin lacerations. More severe injuries usually involve fractures. Ninety percent of hip fractures are caused by a fall. While women are more likely to fall and sustain a hip fracture, the death rate from falling is higher in men. Death from falls usually results from closed head injuries usually, but can also occur as a consequence of bed rest after a more minor falling injury.
Osteoporosis, which occurs mainly in elderly females, can also occur in men. This weakening of the bones can be the reason why fractures occur during the fall. The degree of bony injury can be worse due to the osteoporosis as well.
Due to the increased number of people over age 65 in recent years, injuries from falls is a growing number. In 2000 the direct medical cost of injuries due to falls was about $19 billion.
Preventative measures include regular exercise, having the medications screened to avoid side effects that might cause falls. Screening for and treating osteoporosis can help lower the fracture risk, or at least the severity of the fracture. Getting routine eye exams to avoid falls from poor vision can be very helpful. Lastly, improving the environment at home, reducing trip hazards, the use of grab bars, and good lighting can be very useful in preventing falls.
Dr. Michael L. Granberry, MD
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