New program aimed at falls

By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — The Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital trauma team and the Fire Department teamed up in early May to address fall traumas affecting the aging population.

“Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injures,” said HFWH Trauma Program Manager Tiffany Tscherne, citing a 2010 report by the Center for Disease Control.

Tscherne said the partnership between the agencies is to bring fall prevention education and interventions to the at-risk population in the environment of their daily lives.

Statistics indicate a need for the program.

The CDC reported that 21,700 older adults died from falls in the United States in 2009. The agency further reported that 2.3 million older adults were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2009 for non-fatal fall injuries and more than 662,000 of them were hospitalized.

The CDC reports that one out of three adults 65 and older fall, and fewer than half report it to their doctors. Falls with injuries make up 38 percent of trauma center cases nationwide, according to the Society of Trauma Nurses.

“Life threatening falls has become one of the greatest risks as we age,” Tscherne said. “Falls are not a normal part of aging, as we have assumed for years.”

Often times when paramedics are called for a fallen subject, Fire Chief Jeffery Carley said they evaluate the person and if the patient hasn’t broken a hip, the person refuses transport.

Tscherne said when fall victims go to the hospital, they are treated for minor bumps and bruises, then go home, and fall again, entering a cycle of injury that spirals into a horrible ending.

The reasons people fall range from chronic illness, to medication therapy, to environmental hazards in the home, she said. Research has found that simple fall prevention tactics can reap safety benefits, and prevent the cycle of injury from destroying a person’s well-being.

“Local research has shown that only 25 percent of all people who fall are transported to the (emergency department),” Tscherne said. “The other 75 percent are assisted to safety, but often call 911 multiple times, until they are too injured to care for themselves, and then require transport.”

It is for this reason that the HFWH Trauma Team reached out to the Fire Department to develop a partnership to provide community fall prevention education and interventions before serious injuries could occur.

Tscherne and Carley are enthusiastic about the future of the program, now a month old. Carley said the program allows them to share resources that was beyond them, such as offering fall prevention information to those who have fallen.

Further, they hope to offer free sessions to educate people on the consequences of falling, how to make people and homes safe, and simple exercises people can do at home to prevent falls.

For more information, or to request a free fall prevention kit, email hfwhtrauma@hfhs.org or call 734-246-9134.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at tnims@bewickpublications.com)

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