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Elderly people in their own homes account for the highest percentage of falls

Cincinnati, OH – Recently released data from The Health Collaborative’s Tristate Trauma Registry shows that falls continue to make up nearly half (49 percent) of all trauma-related injuries in the Tristate. Motor vehicle-related injuries represented the second leading cause of trauma-related injury (14.6 percent). The Tristate also saw a reduction in firearm-related injuries with 338 reported in 2014, down from 424 reported firearm injuries in 2013.

In 2014, 4,051 people in the Tristate suffered from trauma-related injuries caused by falls. Fifty percent of those individuals (2, 036 individuals) were 65 years-of-age or older. Falls have remained the leading cause of trauma injury in the tristate region since 2011.

Others at high risk for falling include those with arthritis/osteoporosis, diabetes, visual impairments, high blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, surgery, balance problems, physical inactivity, and medication interactions.

The majority of falls (67 percent) amongst individuals 65 years or older occurred within the home. Of the elderly that fell, 83 percent were hospitalized from trauma related to a fall. There were 102 fatalities from falls in 2014, and 78 of those fall-related fatalities were individuals 65 years or older, representing 76% of all reported fatalities from a fall.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), these figures are consistent with national numbers: one-third of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year, with falls representing the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions to older adults. Given this alarming trend, this year’s Fall Prevention Awareness Day theme is Take A Stand To Prevent Falls. The national awareness day is scheduled for September 23 this year and aims to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries amongst older adults.

Dr. Dan Butler, Trauma Director at Atrium Medical Center, says that there are several ways to take a stand to prevent falls, starting with a few healthy habits.

“Many of the falls are preventable by regular exercise, making homes safer, changing medications that may cause dizziness or drowsiness, and having regular eye exams,” Dr. Butler said.

There are also ways to improve the home environment that can help lower the chances of experiencing an injury from a fall. Some of these simple home improvements include:

  • Install hand rails and grab bars in bathroom
  • Place bath mats with non-slip surfaces in bathtubs and showers.
  • Clear hallways and stairways of clutter
  • Secure rugs to floor properly
  • Keep rooms, stairways, hallways, and outside entrances well-lit.
  • Keep furniture intact and sturdy.
  • Ensure stairways have at least one handrail.
  • Install at least one working telephone that is reachable from the floor.
  • Store commonly used items at safe reaching heights.

Initiated in 2007, the Tristate Trauma Registry provides a picture of trauma throughout the region and the opportunity to identify areas of concern and improvements in the system. The 2014 Annual Report of the Tristate Trauma Registry is reflective of aggregate trauma data from local trauma centers and hospitals that treat trauma-related injuries, representing 8,253 total patients treated across the region.

“This year’s data shows the continuous efforts being made throughout the Tristate to improve and standardize trauma patient care throughout the region,” said Tonda Francis, VP, Regional Coordination and Clinical Initiatives at The Health Collaborative. “Through the work of the Tristate Trauma Coalition, we’re able to identify key areas of improvement in the trauma care system and provide the right resources to our community and area hospitals to address them.”

Through regional educational courses, The Health Collaborative’s Tristate Trauma Coalition has educated 76 physicians, two physician extenders, 253 registered nurses, nine paramedics and 11 respiratory therapists on best practices for improving trauma care.

Key findings of the 2014 Tristate Trauma Registry Report include:

  • Falls remain the leading the cause of trauma incident resulting in injury at nearly 50%.
  • Trauma injuries related to motor vehicle crashes were the second-leading trauma injuries at 14.6%. The number of motor vehicle crash-related injuries has increased steadily since 2011, from 1,049 total injuries reported in 2011 to 1,206 reported in 2014.
  • Firearm-related injuries in 2014 decreased to 338, down from 424 reported injuries due to firearms in 2013.
  • There continues to be variation within a trauma patient’s insurance coverage. A 5% decrease in self pay insurance indicates more patients are benefiting from having medical insurance.