Falls are a significant public health concern because of their frequency and potential for harm. You could take a major fall and severely injure yourself if you lose your balance, trip over uneven terrain or slip on a wet surface.
These injuries can cause physical pain, limited mobility and pricey medical bills. Understanding the risks and the common injuries associated with falls can help you address them when they occur.
Falls are significantly more likely for older adults, with around a quarter of people over 65 experiencing falls yearly. Numerous factors contribute to the incidence of serious falls. These include foot pain, vitamin D deficiency and visual impairment. Household hazards like uneven stairs can also cause falls. Most injuries result from a combination of risk factors. Not all falls lead to injuries, but around 20% cause serious harm.
A sprained wrist or ankle is one of the most prevalent injuries resulting from a fall. These injuries can make routine tasks like typing or walking more challenging.
Hip fractures are another severe outcome of falls. They are more likely to impact older adults. A fractured hip can drastically change your daily life, reducing mobility and independence.
A fall can result in spinal cord damage, causing nerve compression and potentially leading to paralysis or permanent disabilities. These injuries often require immediate medical attention.
Traumatic brain injuries can also occur after falling. Symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness can manifest. Prompt medical attention is beneficial to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment when a head injury occurs.
Aside from these critical injuries, falls can lead to cuts and bruising, especially if you land on a sharp object or hard surface. Severe cuts can result in scarring, while painful bruises can limit activity.
Your body’s stress response triggers during and immediately after a fall, causing increased alertness. Reactions like faster breathing, increased heart rate and muscle tension can occur. This rush can mask physical sensations, including pain. The full extent of your injuries may not be obvious at first. Some injuries do not arise for days or even weeks after a fall. Emotional effects such as anxiety, depression or mood swings can also emerge after some delay.
Falls are a pervasive and serious concern, particularly for older adults. They can cause lasting harm and a diverse range of injuries.