Stay Safe Over Summer - falls

Stay Safe Over Summer - falls Photo

Monday 05 Feb 2018

The number of serious injuries sustained from falling or tripping is increasing – impacting more lives than vehicle accidents.

Senior Clinical Trauma Research Fellow at The Alfred, Dr Helen Ackland, said many high falls (classified as more than one metre) are a result of using ladders incorrectly at home.

“People are doing their own home maintenance, renovations, clearing gutters, washing windows and there possibly isn’t enough care taken when setting up the ladder,” Dr Ackland said.

“We usually see patients that have fallen with the ladder because it’s tipped sideways or out from the base.”

A traumatic brain injury is one of the common consequences of falling from a height, and Dr Ackland says this risk could be reduced by wearing a helmet when using a ladder.

“At this time of year people are doing garden clean-ups so one of the important things to remember is don’t mix alcohol with climbing a ladder or step stool,” Dr Ackland said.

Between June 2016 and June 2017 The Alfred cared for 532 people with life threatening injuries sustained from falling – more than half were falls from less than a metre.

“The highest cause of trauma for the elderly comes from tripping,” said Dr Ackland.

“We see everything from head injury to spinal injury and fractures.”

Falls have far-reaching effects on the elderly, their family and friends. Fall-related fractures can lead to a decline of overall health because it can decrease mobility, independence, quality of life and lower confidence, resulting in the need to move to residential aged care for some people.

“Eye-sight deterioration and medication that can cause balance problems are two of the reasons behind falls,” said Dr Ackland.

Safety precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of trips and falls inside the home and out. These include:

  • Removing obstacles from walkways around the house
  • Removing carpets and rugs with edges that stick up
  • Fixing uneven or slippery steps
  • Wearing non-slip footwear, not wearing slippers
  • If using a walking aide, use it all the time, even if it’s just a short distance