Falls can happen to anyone. Just about everyone has, at some point in their life, lost their footing on a staircase or slipped on a wet floor at the grocery store. In most cases, a fall leads to some minor bruises and perhaps a bit of embarrassment. However, a fall is capable of causing a number of more serious injuries as well, ranging from sprains to broken bones and head injuries. In this article, we discuss some of the common causes of falls, injuries that may occur, and what steps to take if you or a loved one are hurt.
What Commonly Causes People to Fall?
As we grow older, the chances of experiencing a serious fall do increase. However, falls can be caused by a number of risk factors that impact people of all ages. People commonly slip or lose their balance due to:
- Hazards such as uneven steps, broken railings, or poorly-placed electrical cords
- Impaired vision
- Lower body weakness
- Walking or balance difficulties
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Foot pain or improper shoes
- Use of medications causing impaired judgment, balance, or blurred vision
Many people fall due to a combination of risk factors. For example, a person with poor vision may not see a power cord running across a shop floor and trip over it. Some risk factors can be mitigated by proper treatment from a healthcare professional.
What Injuries Are Caused by Falls?
Fortunately, many falls cause little-to-no lasting damage. However, if you or a loved one suffer a significant fall, you may want to visit your doctor even if you do not feel significant discomfort or pain. It can take hours or even days for the symptoms of serious fall injuries to become apparent. Some of the most common injuries caused by falls include:
- Soft tissue injuries: Falling down can cause a substantial range of hard-to-discover injuries, from sprains to internal bleeding. If not promptly treated, these conditions can cause lifelong problems or even threaten the victim’s life.
- Brain injuries: Any time you hit your head during a fall, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to discount the possibility of a serious head or brain injury. Hitting your head forcefully can cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises: Depending on where you fall and what you land on, you may come away with a range of cuts, scrapes, or bruises. While these injuries rarely result in lasting harm, you may need stitches or ointment to prevent infections as your wounds heal.
- Broken bones: Suffering one or more broken bones in a fall can be an incredibly terrifying and painful experience. Severe fractures may require surgical correction or prompt medical intervention to increase the chances of a successful recovery.
- Spinal cord injuries: Damage to the spinal cord during a fall can result in life-changing injuries. Spinal cord injuries can cause reduced mobility or even paralysis.
Steps to Follow if You or a Loved One Fall Down
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that one-in-five falls can cause “serious injuries such as a broken bone, a head injury or even death.” After suffering a fall, it’s essential to take the steps necessary to get proper care for any injuries you suffered in the incident. If you fall and hit your head or experience unusual pain or discomfort after your accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait until your symptoms get worse. At the very least, your doctor will be able to rule out any serious internal or head injuries and give you peace of mind.
Once you’ve taken all necessary steps to protect your health, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered. If you fell due to the negligent or malicious acts of a store owner, employee, or building manager, you may have the foundation of a successful personal injury case. Speak to a local attorney that has experience with slip and fall litigation to determine whether someone else’s actions could have contributed to your accident. They will be able to explain any legal options pertaining to your unique case in detail.
Preventing Slip & Fall Accidents
It is not always possible to prevent an accidental fall from occurring. Slippery surfaces, tripping hazards, and other environmental hazards can bring anyone down unexpectedly. However, many risk factors can be mitigated to some extent. You may find it useful to:
- Discuss the risk of falls and how to prevent them with a doctor
- Do exercises to improve strength and balance
- Get your vision checked by an eye doctor annually
- Review your medication plan with your doctor, since some medications can cause drowsiness or impaired vision
- Make your home safer for yourself and visitors by installing railings and grab bars if they might be helpful to your residence’s occupants
We hope this article helps you and your loved ones stay safe both at home and while out in public!
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