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Doc Talk | Preventing falls all year round

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Hospitals tend to see an increase in the number of people falling during the winter months due to snow and ice remaining on the ground throughout much of the season. Doctors also see an uptick in falls during the summer when people try to be more active. That’s why falls are consistently the most common reason for visits to the emergency room.

To prevent a fall, doctors say there’s more people can do than just being aware of their surroundings.

Injury stemming from a fall can really run the gamut.

“It can be that you get up, you feel fine, to somebody that ends up with a brain injury from the fall,” said Geisinger Holy Spirit Trauma Prevention and Outreach Coordinator Rebekkah Stanko.

That’s why if you go to the emergency room for a fall, be prepared for doctors to ask a lot of questions. They will likely ask where did you fall from? How long ago did you fall? Did you hit your head?

But the two most important questions, are you over the age of 65 and are you on blood thinners?

“Anyone that’s over 65 years of age, that is on blood thinners then we’re going to take that much more seriously,” said Stanko.

Doctors say it’s also important to pay attention to how you feel in the days and weeks after falling. Sometimes it takes a while for the pain to set in or realize something is wrong. Any pain or discomfort that continues for a week after a fall should be checked by a doctor.

“People saying that they’re really having trouble breathing and then you do further testing you find that maybe they fractured a rib. Or maybe they pulled something, they broke something,” said Stanko.

Because falls can be so damaging, we wondered what can you do to prevent them other than look where you’re going or pay attention to what you’re doing.

“Balance activities such as yoga are really beneficial especially in those increased fall populations like the elderly,” said Stanko.

It doesn’t have to be yoga. Stanko says being active in any way will help with balance, strength and the ability to better catch yourself.

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