Falls were the third most common source of injury treated at the Elvis Presley Trauma Center last year, causing everything from broken bones to head injuries.
Fortunately, falls are preventable, and our trauma experts are sharing their advice for how to stay safe.
By evaluating your fall risk, staying healthy and fit, and removing tripping hazards from your home, you can do your part to avoid fall injuries.
Falls can lead to serious injuries, and they can happen anywhere – the workplace, outdoors, or even in your own home. The team at Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center has some advice for reducing your risk of falling.
Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach/Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Burn and Trauma Services, said the Elvis Presley Trauma Center treated 1,490 individuals for falls in 2023, making falls the third most common mechanism of injury among their patients.
“These falls were seen in adults of all ages, and the causes ranged from being impaired to work-related issues to vision problems to home hazards,” Hollins said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, one out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury, and falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Unfortunately, Hollins added, one fall can also make it more likely that you’ll suffer additional falls and injuries. “After a fall, it can become difficult to move around and continue daily activities,” she explained. “When an individual becomes less active, they become weaker, and this increases their chances of falling again.”
The good news is, falls are preventable. Hollins shared the following tips from our trauma team to help you and your loved ones avoid falls:
First, talk to your doctor and ask them to evaluate your fall risk. This should include having a health care provider or pharmacist review all of the medications you’re taking to see if they have side effects like sleepiness or dizziness that could put you at higher risk for falls.
Have an eye exam annually, or more often if you notice vision changes. This will allow you to get vision correction through eyeglasses or contact lenses so you don’t fall due to poor sight.
Keeping your body strong can protect against falls. Exercises that improve leg strength, core strength and balance can help you keep yourself upright.
There are also steps you can take to “fall-proof” your home or workplace.
Keep floors free of clutter such as toys, shoes and clothing, packages or boxes, etc. Make sure cords and wires don’t pose tripping hazards, and remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep them from slipping.
Keep frequently-used items in cabinets that you can reach without using a stepstool.
Add grab bars in your bathroom, especially in the tub and near the toilet. This can help you avoid slipping if the floor is wet.
Make sure you have good lighting throughout the home. At night, use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms so you can see where you’re going.
Finally, this time of year it’s important to be aware of icy weather.
If it is icy outside, consider staying indoors if possible. If you have to go out, don’t hurry, and always look ahead of you to see where you’re stepping. Avoid icy, slushy or wet areas.
If you do have to step across a patch that appears icy, take short steps and walk as flatfooted as possible. Hold onto something if possible.
Seek out proper footwear for winter weather, such as lightweight boots with good support. You can purchase grips for the bottoms of shoes or boots as well.
The Elvis Presley Trauma Center is the only Level-1 Trauma Center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis. A multispecialty team of experts is available 24/7 to treat the most critically injured patients from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and parts of Missouri.
The Firefighters Burn Center is the only full-service burn center in 400 miles of Memphis that is verified by the American Burn Association. It provides comprehensive care including emergency and critical care, intensive care, specialized burn rehabilitation, and laser and plastic surgery.