Orthopedists provide both nonsurgical and surgical treatment for fractures.
We encounter fractures caused by falls every day. Falls can happen to people of any age anytime, anywhere.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in people aged 65 and over. A fall can be a life changing event that robs an elderly person of independence.
Most patients with hip fractures will not fully recover. Many require admission to a nursing home or rely on a walking stick or stroller.
Unfortunately, some hip fracture patients die within a year of their fall.
Every year more than one in four adults aged 65 and over falls. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls, and about three-quarters of all hip fractures occur in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency rooms annually, with 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths, according to the CDC.
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To help prevent falls and fractures, the CDC has several suggestions, including talking to your doctor and reviewing your medication to see if you are feeling dizzy or sleepy.
Get examined for osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency. This may include blood tests and imaging to assess bone density.
Movement, balance, and strength training activities such as climbing stairs, jogging, hiking, dancing, tai chi, and strength training can support agility, strength, balance, and coordination. They also help build bone strength and slow the progression of osteoporosis.
Have your eyes checked at least once a year and make sure your prescription is up to date. Be careful when using bifocals and progressive lenses as these can make things appear closer or farther away than they really are.
Make your home safer by removing things that you could trip over. Add grab bars in the bathroom near the bathtub, shower and toilet. Put railings on both sides of the stairs. Make sure your home is well lit.
Ensure your safety by having someone check you in every day. Consider a medical alert device so you can call for help if you are injured.
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If you fall don’t panic. Take several deep breaths, assess the situation and determine if you are injured.
If possible, slide or crawl on the floor to the nearest couch or chair and try to get up. If you are badly injured, try not to get up. Instead, call a family member or a close neighbor for help.
If you are alone, crawl slowly to the phone and call 911.
In the unfortunate event that you should suffer a fall, an orthopedic surgeon will be trained to treat your injury and guide you on your path to recovery.
Jeffrey Nechleba, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon at UPMC Hamot.