Report: Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury around the world

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - Sep. 18 - 22 is National Fall Prevention Week in the United States. The week is dedicated to educating and learning of ways to mitigate damages from a fall and how to prevent people from unintentionally falling.

Falling can cause head trauma, bone fractures and even death in all ages.

According to the World Health Organization, around 684,000 people die from falls each year. The risk factor raises after people reach the age of 60.

Jeb Brittle, a physical therapist with Sentara, said people can do preventative care to help keep people on their feet and lower the risks of unintentional falling.

“Holding on to the kitchen counter and just trying to work on that single leg balance,” Brittle said. “As we get older, our balance gets worse but if you keep working on these things and keep challenging them, safely, than these are basic things you can do to help your balance and strength”

Falling injuries can lead to a multitude of issues, including loss of mobility because of broken bones. Brittle said people often times become discouraged after a fall and feel that sitting is the safest. He said losing activity can weaken muscles, and can cause issues for walking later in life.

Brittle suggested to do simple calf raises or stand-up exercises to help strengthen leg muscles, ensuring people have the leg strength to support them and make long strides wall they are walking.

”The more you work on it and not let it get weaker and weaker over time, it’s going to help prevent falls and give you that ability that when you do start to lose your balance you go like ‘woah, I’ve got the muscular strength, I’ve got the proprioception to catch myself,” Brittle said.

According to the CDC, at least 300,000 older people (age 60 and older) are hospitalized for falls each year. It also said 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.

Brittle said the negative stigma around walkers and canes is a major reason people do not want to use them in public. He said people who fall often could have prevented the fall if they used these resources.

Brittle said there were 3 parts to balance:

  • Eyes and perception
  • Ears and vertigo
  • proprioception, understanding where you are in relation to other things.

He said removing clutter and making walkways more accessible at home can prevent unwanted falls, especially at night.