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Monday, September 24, 2007

Mobile Fall Prevention Clinic Seeks to Protect Seniors From Injuries

I've taken care of many frail seniors after they have had a fall. In Canada there is a new system to help prevent falls. Healthcare specialists travel with the Mobile Falls and Injury Prevention Clinic, which provides personal custom reports and personal programs for seniors. The assessment and programs are aimed at preventing seniors from falling and injuring themselves. Seniors go to six stations that include a nurse, pharmacist, kinesiologist, biomechanics expert, and a physiotherapist.

Seniors who go to the mobile clinic receive a custom report to reduce their own risk of falling and getting injured. They also receive a custom activity program designed to meet their needs and provide safety.

I will add that having a personal evaluation and a custom tailored program of exercise, mobility, and activities can help seniors to avoid falls. Details such as safely getting in and out of a chair, the height of chairs and whether the chairs have arms on them, and body mechanics are some of the everyday activities that most people don't think about but that can make a difference.

Caregivers can suggest that seniors get fall prevention advice. A personal fall prevention program might include having a physical therapist evaluate and advise seniors about using walkers. For instance, some seniors use a walker by leaning forward, with arms more outstretched, and pushing the walker a little bit ahead of them. A safer method is to stand more upright, with the walker closer to the body, where it can provide balance.

Another example would be when people use the sliding "skiis" for the feet on a walker. For some people this is suitable but the skiis also can make a walker slide faster and for some people it is harder to control the walker then.

If a frail elderly senior falls caregivers can call paramedics who can check for injuries before moving the person, and then lift the person safely.

Home health professionals can come to the house to provide safety checks and tips for avoiding falls.

The article, at said the mobile clinic is sponsored by Fraser Health Authority in Canada.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services says falls are the number one cause of injury deaths among people over 65. Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and of hospital admissions for trauma.

Their website says that in 2003 in the U.S. 13,700 people died from fall related injuries.

Another 1.8 million in 2003 were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal injuries related to falls.

To reduce the risk of fall injuries home safety measures can be followed including the following.

Avoid having floors that are slippery.
Put grab bars on tubs, showers and stairways.
Remove throw rugs.
Remove clutter, open up walkways in the house.
Have bright lighting after dark.
Have an evaluation by medical professionals and a custom report and activity program to avoid falls.
Have an exercise program to build strength and balance.
Eat a nutritional diet.
Wear proper shoes that fit well.
Check vision and be sure glasses prescription is up to date.
Have medications checked to avoid overmedicating and dizziness.

Caregivers can go to The United States Department of Health and Human Services website to read about seniors and falls.

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