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Breakdown on Falls: February 2, 2014

Simple falls such as slipping off a curb may seem relatively harmless, but they can actually lead to serious injury and death in the elderly.

“One out of three seniors fall every year. Half of those that do fall, fall so bad that they’re hospitalized. And those that are hospitalized 50% of those pass away within a year. So it’s a horrible statistic,” says Mark Tesoro, injury prevention analyst with Lee Memorial Health System.

Mark Tesoro is an analyst for the Trauma Center at Lee Memorial Health System. He finds most falls hit close to home.

“Homes are a dangerous place. Things like throw rugs you would think of but also other things like clutter, cabling, lighting - huge issue. You should not get up out of bed and crossing a dark room to turn on a light. You should have a light right next to your bed,” says Tesoro.

Medication side effects, poor vision, the shoes you wear, even the family pet contribute to your getting your feet tangled up. Sounds simple but there is danger underfoot.

“There are a number of assisted devices like canes and walkers. You have to make sure you have a vision check, you have to check your pharmacy- make sure all the medicine you are on is adequate, you have to make sure your footwear is proper- slippers and flip flops are not a good foundation,” says Tesoro.

When fear of falling keeps people from moving around it limits not only their activities, but their life. Physical therapists can help with fall prevention techniques.

“Any type of patient that comes in from falling is to prevent them from falling again. Educate them about why they’re falling. Educate them how to prevent those falls,” says Dawn Root, physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

The goal is to keep people strong and stable.