Falls Prevention!

Falls are the leading cause of brain injury in the United States. On top of that, the risk of injury significantly increases after 1, 2, and 3 brain injuries. Balance, strength, impulsivity, and environment all contribute to safety after brain injury. Here are some falls prevention tips you can utilize at home and in the community. In addition, there are some tip about talking to your doctor about falls, medication-related fall risks, and effects of vision after brain injury.

For more information about brain injury and safety, check out our Success Pack on Safety after Brain Injury.

Falls at home can be common after injury but there are some strategies to help in adjusting your home.

  • Keep pathways clear of clutter & add storage
  • Be aware of uneven surfaces including flooring and rugs
  • Keep frequently used items close by or lower
  • Light your way with bright lights and adapted switches
  • Add supports in the bathroom, stairs (internal & external)

For more tips visit:  http://www.stopfalls.org/grantees_info/files/HomeModification.PDF.

For more modifications and accommodations after brain injury, check out our factsheet on Safety after Brain Injury.  

Preventing falls in the community involved planning and awareness.

  • Be aware of where & when you walk
    • Avoid wet or uneven surfaces
    • Plenty of light and space
  • Travel safely
    • Use handrails, ramps, and move slowly
    • Walk in crosswalks when signaled
    • Utilize accessible transportation
  • Wear proper attire or assistive devices
    • Vision, cane/walker, footwear
  • Make a plan for physical activity
    • Well maintained places as options (mall, high school track during off hours)
    • Modified or adapted exercises
    • Contact your doctor or therapist
    • Walking, yoga, gym, stretching, TaiChi

For more tips visit:  http://www.stopfalls.org/grantees_info/files/PreventingOutdoorFalls-Cicero.pdf.

It can be challenging to talk to your doctor sometimes – but essential in addressing risks for falls. Here are some tips to help! For a handout to take to your doctor visit http://www.stopfalls.org/resourc…/downloadables/Talk_Doc.pdf.

  • Referral about vision, assistive devices, therapy and/or home assessment
  • Connection to community resources or classes
  • Ask about types of safe physical activity
  • Make aware of history of falls/near falls, difficulty with balance/dizziness, change in sensation/vision/sleep, or chronic conditions

Use of medications can significantly increase fall risk for a number of reasons. Be aware of potential medication side effects, proper dosage, and administration to prevent falls. Talk to your doctor with any questions or concerns. More tips at http://www.stopfalls.org/…/downloadabl…/medication_color.pdf.

Be aware of common conditions & side effects that increase fall risk

  • Heart & blood pressure
  • Arthritis, pain, & weakness
  • Sleep, anxiety, depression, memory conditions
  • Digestive, stomach, nausea, bladder control
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Difficulty with balance, slow response
  • Loss of concentration, alertness, drowsiness
  • Blurred vision

What you can do to reduce risk

  • Be informed purpose, dosage, and side effects for all medications and take as prescribed
  • Ask for large print or assistive medication aids to help with administration
  • Keep open communication with doctors & pharmacy about side effects, risks, and changes

Vision is commonly changed after brain injury and can significantly impact risk of falls. Be aware of common vision changes, effect of vision loss and reducing fall risk. Check out http://www.stopfalls.org/resources/downloadables/vision_color.pdf or https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/vision-problems-and-traumatic-brain-injury.

Common problems

  • Blurry or distorted vision
  • Sensitivity to bright lights/glare
  • Difficulty seeing objects or at nighttime
  • Problems seeing edges, changes in surfaces, or judging depth/distance

Effects of Vision Loss

  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Challenges seeing clutter/obstacles, moving on stairs/steps/curbs
  • Shuffling, dragging, or problems walking
  • Reduced activity, decreased strength, balance, & coordination

Reducing Fall Risk

  • Have eye checks at least once a year and share vision/fall concerns with your doctor.
  • Make sure your prescription for any glasses or contacts are up to date.
  • Check your home for safety hazards (adjust lighting, mark edges of stairs with contrast tape, clear clutter/secure rugs, add nightlights, keep frequently used items easily accessed.
  • Ask about low vision services, rehabilitation, specialized assessment, or accommodations

CDC:  https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Mayo Clinic:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358

National Council on Aging:  https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/

Fall Prevention Center of Excellence:  http://stopfalls.org/what-is-fall-prevention/

Conversations for Caregivers:  https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/FallsPrevention_FINAL.pdf

Community-Based Programming:  https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/pdf/falls/fallpreventionguide-2015-a.pdf

North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition:  https://www.injuryfreenc.ncdhhs.gov/resources/FallsCoalition.htm

BIANC Falls Prevention Flyer:  BIANC Falls Prevention Flyer

Lauren Costello