Fall Prevention: Be Proactive
Tips to Help Prevent Falls
As outlined above, there is a real need to address fall prevention. The following information may help you to take a proactive approach to preventing falls.
Health and Medication
One of the first steps you should take is to review your current medical situation, including medications taken, with your doctor. Some medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, have known side effects that may cause drowsiness, dizziness, even confusion.
Diet and Exercise
A good diet is essential for bone building and maintenance, as well as overall physical and mental health. All ages - children, teenagers, adults, and seniors - have different nutritional needs. Consult with your doctor or nutritionist to determine a program that will maximize your health.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently indicated that exercise reduces the risk of falls by almost 25%! Exercise improves flexibility, range of motion, strength, stability, balance, and coordination. Weight bearing exercise fights osteoporosis (a bone density disease causing porous bones). Exercise helps arthritic joints move and hand clenching may increase the ability to grab and hang onto handrails - important to fall prevention.
The recent rise in popularity of biking has resulted in many thousands of people biking for fun on streets, parks, and trails. Falling from a bike and hitting the head without proper protection can be fatal. Head trauma leading to brain injury is a leading cause of death in people under age 45. The easiest way to help prevent traumatic head injury is to wear a hard helmet designed for biking.
Besides brain injury, riders who fall can sustain spinal fractures and spinal cord damage (sometimes permanent). The spinal column is a uniquely designed system that combines bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which surround the spinal cord. Children are susceptible to injuries from falling because their bodies are still growing. At any age it is important to protect the head and spine.
A few pointers to help your children from falling off their bikes include:
- Properly maintain their bike. Periodically check the brakes, tire condition, seat height, pedals, and so on.
- Tell them to watch out for potholes, roadwork, railroad tracks, glass, and other obstacles.
- Remind them to allow enough 'safe space' between them and parked cars/curbs. A door that is suddenly opened can knock them off their bike.
- Explain the idea of driver's blind spots to children. If the driver can see the biker in his mirror, the chances of being hit are reduced.
Of course, there are other sports that would warrant wearing protective gear including a hard helmet. These would include roller-blading, hockey (ice and street), and skateboarding.
When diving into a swimming pool, lake, or other body of water, always go in feet first. It can be difficult to determine the depth of the water. Diving into shallow water can cause serious injury including paralysis.