November 23, 2014

New public service campaign aims to decrease falls at home

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Falls within the home are the most prevalent cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among Americans age 65 and older, leading to more than 2.3 million emergency room visits and 21,000 deaths in 2010. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA), recently launched a new public service campaign, “Home Safety is Bone Safety,” to help decrease falls at home and help seniors maintain active and independent lifestyles free of injury and pain.

Designed for seniors and their caregivers, the campaign features a Falls Awareness and Prevention Guide that provides tips to fall–proof areas of the home. The guide also addresses:

Lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy and staying physically active, that encourage maintaining strong bones and reduce the risk of a fall–related injury;

Medical factors such as osteoporosis, arthritis and vision or hearing loss that increase the risk of a fall–related injury;

Risk factors such as inadequate footwear and excessive alcohol consumption that increase the likelihood of a fall;

How to contact a friend, relative or emergency service in the unfortunate event of a fall;

How to get up from a fall safely without causing further injury.

“The new falls prevention campaign highlights the importance of a proactive approach to addressing risk factors and fall–proofing the home,” said Hassan Mir, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and assistant professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three adults age 65 and older will suffer from a fall each year. Of the more than 2.3 million fall–related injuries treated in 2010, approximately 662,000 of those patients required hospitalization.

Even if someone does not suffer a severe injury, that person is still more likely to develop a fear of falling. This fear might cause someone to reduce their level of physical activity, which has the long–term effect of decreasing bone density and only increases his risk of a fall over time.

To determine your risk factors and review tips, find the Home Safety is Bone Safety guide at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/falls/.

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