MU fall risk

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COLUMBIA – Experts from MU Health Care's trauma center will lead a free fall-risk screening Friday to evaluate patients for risk of falls.
Assessments include blood pressure screenings, physical therapists evaluating proper balance and conducting a hand-grip strength test, occupational therapists talking about home safety and audiologists conducting hearing screenings.
Kassie Campbell, a nurse physician for trauma services and the injury prevention and outreach coordinator, said falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults.
“We see about 1,500 trauma patients every year with 600 related-to-fall incidents,” Campbell said. “This doesn’t include the patients that come in the ER and may not have a significant injury.”
Campbell said every 11 seconds the emergency room treats an older adult for a fall, with an older adult dying every 19 minutes from a fall.
Through practical lifestyle adjustments and evidence-based fall prevention programs, the goal of the screening is to reduce to number of falls among seniors.
“We talk to people about potential hazards that they may have. People often don’t even realize the things they have at home that can cause a risk for falls,” Campbell said. “Home safety is really important to look at because they are often simple things that we can change very easily at a low cost.”
Recommended precautions include the removal of throw rugs, addition of handrails on both sides of stairways and bath tubs, checking your eyes once a year with up-to-date glasses, avoid uneven steps and avoiding bifocals when doing outside activities, which could limit depth perception.
Campbell also recommended doing exercises that improve leg strength and balance, maintaining sufficient vitamin D, keeping enough light in your house with a bathroom light on at night and keeping a phone on the ground of a main room or bedroom in case of an emergency.
I think we need to be in a mindset where we’re preparing, thinking about things that we can do and just being proactive,” Campbell said. “We never think that something’s going to happen to us but in fact it is, it is going to happen to us whether that’s a motor vehicle crash or a fall.”
As patients get older, bone density and medications change, which impacts balance and increases the chance of a broken bone.
“In the trauma world we see a lot of patients that fall, and they don’t get adequate treatment or go to see a provider soon. And then they have a fatal injury that maybe could have been prevented had they came in and seen someone,” Campbell said.
The screening is open to the public and will take place Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at South Providence Medical Park.