The Dangers of Falling and Accidents
As young children, we spend time learning to walk and have numerous falls along the way, nearly all of which are harmless, and a normal process of getting our balance and confidence on two feet.
Unfortunately as adults, there is rarely a warning to prepare for a slip or fall. Falls can happen suddenly and come out of the blue. Most people tend to commonly associate falls in the winter months, with wet ground/ice sometimes getting the blame. Generally speaking, a fall can be minor or quite severe, causing injury and pain for many days or weeks. More serious falls can cause immediate and noticeable injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, bruising, or even in severe cases fractures.
However sometimes injuries from accidents aren’t noticeable right away. It may not be until days later that you experience some side effects from fall, such as headaches, numbness and tingling or other musculoskeletal discomfort.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides guidance and advice on how to improve health care in the UK, revealed in 2014 that 5% of falls in older people living in the community result in a fracture or hospitalisation.
Almost all (95%) of the UK’s 86,000 hip fractures per year are the result of a fall. The report defined a simple fall as one “occurring as a result of a chronic impairment of cognition, vision, balance or mobility”.
However falls do not just affect us physically; there can also be a mental effect, particularly in the elderly population in the community. A fall can effect confidence and increases isolation, with many older people too scared to leave their homes for fear of another fall. Given the forced isolation that 2020 has brought us, Covid-19 has intensified this factor, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable in our society.
Dr. Calum Stewart (D.C.)