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The Art of Staying on Your Feet - Preventing Trips and Falls

29 May 2023

If your best friend trips and falls, will you help them up? Sure, you will; once you have stopped laughing.

Catch me, I'm falling is a hit song from the '80s, and for many of us, it can be our personal anthem. Trips and falls can happen to almost everyone of all ages. But some people are more prone to falls than others; they are always slipping, tripping, and taking the plunge for reasons known and unknown. It is just the way they are.

During childhood and young age, trips and falls can be funny. But the repercussions and risks of falling become more serious as we age. That harmless stumble on the sidewalk can cause injury, which may lead to long-term pain, disability, and even death.



Falling Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than three million people are hospitalized every year due to injuries related to falls. It is also estimated that more than half the people who fall discuss it with their doctors.

This lack of communication about falls can lead to further injury as medical professionals may not be able to properly assess the risk factors or provide recommendations for preventive measures.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, with one in five people aged 65 and above experiencing a fall every year. It is estimated that more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls. Falls can also cause traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.

Older adults, especially those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, are more likely to experience falls. Other fall risk factors include poor vision, medication side effects, lack of exercise, and balance problems. It is important to talk to your doctor about any potential risks you may have from falling so that they can advise on prevention measures.

In addition to head and hip injuries, falls can also cause the following:

Sprains and Strains

Sprains are caused by the overstretching or tearing of a ligament, while strains result from an overstretched or torn muscle. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and swelling. Treatment typically involves immobilization, ice, and medications.

Fractures

A fracture is when a bone breaks due to a fall or other trauma. Depending on the location and severity, fractures may require medical attention, such as casting and physical therapy, as part of the healing process. Fractures can occur in any of the extremities or on the torso.

Nerve Damage

Serious falls can cause nerve damage caused by the direct trauma of the fall or from pressure on a nerve due to swelling related to the injury. Symptoms may include tingling, numbness, pain, and paralysis. Treatment for nerve damage typically involves rest, followed by physical therapy and medications, depending on the severity of the injury.

Contusions

Contusions (bruises) are caused by blood pooling in the area where tissue damage is due to impact from a fall. Treatment usually requires rest, ice packs, elevation, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).

Torn Ligaments

A torn ligament is when the tissue connecting two bones is overstretched or completely ruptured. Symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling, and instability in the affected joint. Treatment typically involves resting, physical therapy, and possible surgery.

Dislocated Joints

A dislocated joint occurs when the bone moves out of its normal position due to a fall or other trauma. Symptoms include extreme pain, deformity in the area, and lack of mobility in the affected limb. Treatment usually includes immobilization, medications to reduce inflammation, and possible surgical intervention.



Risk Factors and Causes of Falls

The most common causes of trips and falls are inattention, slippery surfaces, poor lighting, and inadequate footwear. But even more important than the external factors are the internal ones. Age-related changes and underlying medical conditions such as altered vision, weakened muscle strength, impaired mobility, or balance disorder can put us at higher risk for slips and trips. Some medications can also contribute to falling by causing dizziness or drowsiness.

For elderly individuals, falls are even more likely. The most significant risk factors for falls in this population are physical impairments such as vision and hearing loss, balance disorders, muscle weakness, and gait instability. Cognitive impairment, polypharmacy (taking multiple medications), depression, and isolation can also play a role.

In the workplace, slips, and trips are most often caused by poor housekeeping and inadequate maintenance. Other common causes of workplace falls include wet floors, uneven walking surfaces, debris on the floor, and lack of handrails or other safety measures.



Preventing Trips and Falls

To reduce the risk of falls, it is important to take measures to prevent falls wherever you are. Here are some steps you can take to prevent fall accidents.

Pay Attention to the Lighting

Lighting is key to preventing falls, especially among older people and those with disabilities. Poor lighting can lead to an increased risk of slips, trips, and falls, as well as increase the severity of any injuries if they do occur.

Ensuring adequate lighting in all areas with potential risks is essential for fall prevention. The quality of the light itself is just as important as ensuring there are enough light sources in space. It's recommended that rooms are lit to at least 30 foot-candles of illumination, and outdoor areas should meet 50 foot-candles for safety purposes. Additionally, use lighting with a color temperature greater than 5000 Kelvin to create a brighter environment.

Beyond the quality of light, there are many other ways to ensure spaces are well-lit for fall prevention. For example, doors can be fitted with motion sensors so that lights automatically turn on when someone enters a room and off when they leave. This is especially useful for nighttime use as it can prevent falls due to low visibility in dark areas. Other suggestions include installing windows or skylights to bring natural light into the space, using reflective surfaces such as mirrors to redirect light, and strategically positioning lamps throughout the area.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

The proper shoes are an essential part of fall prevention. Shoes with a good grip and traction can help prevent slips and trips, especially in wet conditions. Shoes should also provide adequate support for the feet and ankles, which helps to maintain better balance. Heels should be avoided as they impair balance and increase the risk of falls. Choose shoes that provide stability and cushioning for comfort, such as sneakers or other rubber-soled shoes.

Being Aware of Our Surroundings

One of the best ways to prevent falls is by being aware of our surroundings at all times; this means being attentive to where we step and looking out for uneven surfaces, clutter, and other potential hazards. It also means being aware of our physical limitations and not pushing ourselves too far past what is safe for our abilities. For example, climbing ladders or performing complex tasks should only be done if we are confident in our ability to do so safely.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is important for maintaining strength and balance, which reduces the likelihood of falling. Exercise programs that focus on improving coordination, balance, and flexibility are especially helpful in reducing fall risks among those with physical impairments. Exercises such as Tai Chi and yoga can help balance and coordination, while strength training can improve muscle tone and support the joints for better stability.

Follow Safety Rules

Safety rules should be followed in any area where there is a chance of slipping or tripping. This includes cleaning up spills immediately, using handrails on stairs and ramps, keeping walkways clear of debris or clutter, and using non-slip mats or rugs to protect against wet surfaces. Always take caution when standing on uneven surfaces or walking in poor lighting conditions, as these are common causes of falls. Finally, it is important to keep pathways well-lit at all times, especially during evening hours.

Conduct Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is important for fall prevention. It ensures areas are kept clean and free of potential hazards. This includes ensuring all equipment is in good working order, keeping floors dry and clear of debris, checking handrails for stability, and inspecting stairs for worn-out or missing steps. It is also important to ensure the environment meets the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).



Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat MT1

Standing desks offer various benefits, such as improved posture, increased productivity, and improved focus. However, standing for long periods can be tough on one's feet and lead to fatigue. To help combat this problem, the Standing Desk Anti-Fathttps://www.flexispot.com/standing-desk-anti-fatigue-mat-mt1-mt2igue Mat MT1 is designed to absorb shocks and reduce strain on the lower body. The mat features a durable non-slip surface that helps keep your footing secure while providing cushioning for prolonged standing sessions.

If you spend a considerable portion of your day on your feet, the MT1 will help you stay comfortable and reduce the risk of slips and trips. Whether you use it with a standing desk in your office or while working at the counter in the kitchen, you will immediately notice the difference it makes when it comes to lowering stress and fatigue.

Final Thoughts

Staying on your feet is an important part of staying safe and healthy. Following the tips outlined above, you can better protect yourself from slips, trips, and falls. From exercising regularly to wearing the right footwear and using safety mats, there are many ways to ensure that you stay on your feet for long periods without sacrificing comfort or safety. With a little effort and dedication, you can enjoy greater peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything possible to stay safe and promote good health.