According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 million adults fall each year. Of this number, approximately 30,000 result in deaths. In 2015, visits to the emergency room reached a record high of 9.4 million, reflecting an increase of 1.5 million from the 2011 data.
Several years ago, slips and falls were commonly seen among older adults aged 65+ because of their poor eyesight and balance. More recently, falls occur in younger individuals because of their distraction. Sometimes, increased mobile phone usage causes injuries to themselves or to another person. A slip and fall accident should not be overlooked since they can cause severe injuries and disability. Some of them include:
One of the most common injuries resulting from falls is traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the US, falls accounts for 40% of traumatic brain injury. TBI varies in severity. It can be a minor concussion that can get better with rest. It could also be a severe head injury that may cause cognitive impairment, seizures, mood changes, and other debilitating symptoms. These head injuries affect both younger and older adults.
Some of the head injuries include:
- Hematoma – A hematoma is blood collection outside the blood vessels. It can be a severe injury if the hematoma occurs in the brain as it may cause increased pressure, which may result in permanent brain damage.
- Hemorrhage –The bleeding can be within your brain tissue or around the brain. Often the bleeding causes headaches and vomiting. Too much bleeding may also cause pressure to build up.
- Concussion – This head injury may occur if the impact is severe enough to cause brain damage. In general, function loss due to a concussion may be temporary. However, if it happens repeatedly, it may cause permanent damage.
- Skull Fracture – The skull does not have bone marrow, which makes the bone difficult to break. So, a skull fracture may be a sign of the presence of brain damage.
- Sheer Injury – Sheer injuries do not cause bleeding but cause damage to the brain cells. When this happens, the brain may lose its ability to function properly. It can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Studies show that over 95% of hip fractures result from falling sideways. Hip fractures require surgery, which may include implantation of an artificial hip. Patients also need to undergo extensive physical rehabilitation. Often, individuals who suffered a hip fracture may experience other symptoms such as sciatica or embolism.
Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
A slip and fall accident can cause serious injuries such as back and spinal cord injuries. Falls may result in herniated discs that may limit your range of motion and mobility. It can cause permanent paralysis or neurologic and sensory deficits. Falls account for more than 25% of spinal cord injuries among individuals aged 65 and older.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Slips and falls can cause shoulder injuries. The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves that connects to the spinal cord. Patients who suffer from these types of injuries must undergo physical therapy to restore function and range of motion of their limbs and joints.
Sprains and Fractures
Minor slips and falls can cause sprains. An individual may twist their ankles or knees and cause inflammation of the connective ligaments. Older individuals may also suffer from knee fractures or leg fractures as their bones are more prone to breaking as they age.
Slip and falls, with its increasing incidence, have become a national concern. This increase in falls and the resulting injuries calls for better and more proactive safety regulations. Since slip and fall accidents are common in the elderly, their family members must take proper precautions to make sure the elderly are safe within their homes.