If you thought vehicular accidents are the most common cause of trauma in Kansas, you’d be wrong.
The most common cause is falls.
“Falls have been outpacing motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes for some time,” says James Haan, MD, a board-certified trauma surgeon who serves as medical director for Trauma Services at the Level I Trauma Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita.
Dr. Haan is also the chair for the Kansas Trauma Registry, which collects trauma patient data statewide. With data from the registry, maintained and overseen by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, lawmakers and other policymakers determine funding for prevention programs.
In 2016, at Via Christi more than 1,050 patients were treated for trauma from falls, twice as many as the number of patients treated for motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes. Back in 2011, the numbers of patients cared for at Via Christi for trauma caused by falls and for trauma caused by crashes were nearly even, with only 14 more patients being treated for falls than the 764 treated for crashes.
With an aging demographic who is living longer, many falls are happening in seniors older than 65 years old. Sometimes falls go unreported. Only one in four older adults reports a fall to their doctor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some ways to take action to prevent falls, as recommended by the CDC:
- Keep moving. Do activities that strengthen your legs and help your balance.
- Check your eyes. Have your vision checked annually and update prescriptions as needed.
- Review medications with your doctor. Too many prescription drugs and side effects from medication can increase your fall risks. Also ask about taking vitamin D supplements for improved bone, muscle and nerve health.
- Make your home safe. Keep floors clutter free, remove or secure rugs, have handrails and lights installed on staircases, add grab bars in the bathroom and make sure your spaces have lots of light.