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Falls and Related Injuries

At South Coast Post Acute, our compassionate team of skilled healthcare professionals has taken part in the rehabilitation of hundreds of patients from fall-related injuries over the years.

Our staff understands that a fall-related injury requires support from everyone in our community and we band together to provide compassionate care that the recovery process requires to help us meet our goal: to give our patients the care they need to return to the lives they had before their falls as seamlessly and quickly as possible.

While falls can have a deleterious effect on people, no matter their age, they can be particularly dangerous as we get older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some alarming statistics about falls:

  • Annually, millions of Americans aged 65 and older fall
  • More than a quarter of our older population suffer falls, but less than half tell their doctors
  • If you fall once its doubles your chances of falling again
  • In 2015 alone, a quarter of older adults reported falling and more than 28,000 died as a result of falls – that’s 74 people each day
  • Every second of every day, an older adult falls
  • In the U.S., an older adult dies from a fall every 20 minutes
  • More than 800,000 patients a year end up in a hospital because of a fall-related injury
  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as a head injury of broken bones
  • At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures each year
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways
  • Depending on the severity of the broken bone or fracture, one may need to have surgery
  • Recovering from a broken bone or fracture takes an average of eight weeks to heal and a regular physical therapy routine
  • Click here to learn more about South Coast’s broken bone rehabilitation program
  • Falls are the main cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Falls can be costly for all of us; in 2015, medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion, with Medicare and Medicaid picking up 75% of these costs


How can you avoid a fall?

Fortunately, most falls do not cause injuries, but one in five does lead to a serious injury, such as a broken bone or TMI. These types of injuries can make it harder for a person to get around, perform everyday activities, or live on their own. There are several simple steps you can take to prevent falls and dramatically cut down on the risk of falls. The CDC developed the STEADI

(Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) initiative which includes educational materials and tools to improve fall prevention.

Here are some tips for caregivers of older adults to help them avoid fall-related injuries:

  • Speak openly with your loved one and their healthcare provider about fall risks and prevention
  • Tell a healthcare provider right away if your loved one has fallen, or if they are worried about falling, or seem unsteady
  • Keep an updated list of your loved one’s medications
  • Show a healthcare provider or pharmacist all of their medications, including over-the-counter medications, as well as supplements
  • Make sure to discuss any side effects, like feeling dizzy or sleepy
  • Ask their healthcare provider about taking vitamin D supplements to improve bone, muscle, and nerve health
  • Check out activities that improve balance and strengthen legs, such as Tai Chi, that can help to prevent falls
  • Check with their healthcare provider about the best type of exercise program for them
  • Being able to see and walk comfortably can prevent falls, so have eyes and feet checked on an annual basis
  • Replace eyeglasses as needed
  • Get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking
  • A caveat: sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are
  • Discuss proper footwear, and ask whether seeing a foot specialist is advised
  • Most falls happen at home, so make the home safe
  • Keep floors clutter-free
  • Remove small throw rugs, or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping
  • Make sure the bathroom is safe by adding grab bars next to and inside the tub and next to the toilet
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors
  • Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases
  • Make sure their home has plenty of light
  • Hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare
  • Remove things they can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where they walk
  • Keep items they use often in cabinets that can be easily reached without using a step stool
  • Make sure they always wear well-fitting shoes with good support inside and outside


What is postural hypotension and how can you avoid it?

Postural hypotension, also known as orthostatic hypotension, is when your blood pressure drops when you go from lying down to sitting up, or from sitting to standing. When your blood pressure drops, less blood can go to your organs and muscles. This can make you more likely to have a fall-related injury.

Although many people with postural hypotension show no symptoms, others do.

These symptoms can differ from person to person, and can include the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling like you’re about to faint, passing out, or falling
  • Headaches, and blurry or tunnel vision
  • Feeling vague or muddled
  • Feeling pressure across the back of your shoulders or neck
  • Feeling nauseous, or hot and clammy
  • Weakness or fatigue

Be especially aware of symptoms of postural hypotension at these times:

  • When standing or sitting up suddenly
  • In the morning, when blood pressure is naturally lower
  • After a large meal or alcohol
  • During exercise, especially when it’s strenuous
  • When straining on the toilet
  • When you are ill
  • If you become anxious or panicky

What causes postural hypotension? Postural hypotension can be caused by or linked to several factors.

If you think you may have postural hypotension, here are some tips:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing
  • Ask if any of your medicines should be reduced or stopped
  • Get out of bed slowly
  • First sit up, sit on the side of the bed, then stand up
  • Take your time when changing position, such as when getting up from a chair
  • Try to sit down when washing, showering, dressing, or working in the kitchen
  • Exercise gently before getting up (move your feet up and down and clench and unclench your hands) or after standing (march in place)
  • Make sure you have something to hold on to when you stand up
  • Do not walk if you feel dizzy
  • Drink six-to-eight glasses of water or low-calorie drinks each day, unless you have been told by a healthcare professional to limit your fluid intake
  • Avoid taking very hot baths or showers
  • Try sleeping with extra pillows to raise your head

What conditions can make you more likely to fall?

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They can include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants
  • Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as broken or uneven steps, and throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over

Broken bones and fractures.

  • Most bone fractures are caused by falls and accidents
  • Bone fractures caused by disease are referred to as pathological fractures
  • A compound fracture is one that also causes injury to the overlying skin
  • There are a number of different types of fractures, including avulsion, comminuted, and hairline fractures
  • Bone healing is a natural process, treatment revolves around giving the bone optimum conditions to heal itself


National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and are responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. To raise awareness of how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults, each year the National Council on Aging (NCOA) sponsors National Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD), partnering with organizations on the national, state, and local levels to develop educational plans about the impact of falls, fall prevention strategies, and advocate for the expansion of evidence-based community fall prevention programs. The NCOA organized FPAD as a day of events, meetings, and webinars to start the conversation. This year FPAD will take place Monday, Sept. 23. Here is information about falls, from the NCOA:

  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.
  • Fall-related injuries threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.


At South Coast Post Acute, we offer an extensive range of rehabilitation therapy after a fall-related injury.

Our rehabilitation specialties include rehabilitative/restorative services, including:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy

Our rehabilitation program provides comprehensive care for patients recovering from or coping with:

  • Stroke
  • Back Surgeries
  • Hip and Joint Replacement
  • Brain Injury
  • Pulmonary Diseases
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Fractures
  • Prolonged Hospital Stay

We offer intensive medical and physical rehabilitation care for residents recovering after a hospital stay. Through our complement of highly-trained medical care staff, we provide you the opportunity to regain your highest level of functionality prior to returning home.


What is involved in Senior Fall Recovery at South Coast Post Acute.

Senior rehabilitation after a fall usually includes a hospital stay, typically lasting from one to four days. Both physical and occupational therapy will begin working with recovering seniors while they are still in the hospital. Before the senior is released, the medical staff will want to make sure he or she is able to get up out of bed independently, be in control of their pain, is able to walk with an assistive device, and can manage daily tasks like eating and using the restroom.

If the senior isn’t able to accomplish these tasks independently, a stay in a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility will be necessary. The senior rehabilitation process will include physical therapy to ensure that the senior is increasing flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. Being well physically is vital to preventing future fall-related injuries. The physical therapist will provide muscle re-education as well as balance training and strengthening exercises, as well as gait training so the senior can learn how to walk with a cane or walker.

The physical therapist will also recommend some exercises to continue doing at home once the senior is discharged. An assessment of why the fall happened in the first place will need to be done for proper senior fall recovery. For instance, did something in the environment cause the fall, like furniture or a rug being in the way, or was it because the senior was in poor overall physical health? Does the senior have good vision and hearing? The physical therapist will prescribe the correct physical therapy for seniors of all abilities depending on their needs, including training for walking correctly with a mobility aid like a walker or cane.

Also during the stay in the rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility, an occupational therapist will help ensure the senior is comfortable maintaining activities of daily living, like dressing, eating, bathing, grooming, etc. The occupational therapist will also perform a home safety test, in which they evaluate the senior’s living space and make suggestions for making the areas safe for daily living. This may include recommending the removal of throw rugs and some furniture which can be tripping hazards, as well as installing better lighting, grab bars and railings through the home.

Senior rehabilitation after a fall-related injury is important to ensure the patient has a full range of motion, less pain and is able to live as independently as possible.


More than 95% of hip fractures are a result of a fall-related injury.

Depending on the severity of the broken bone or fracture, one may need to have surgery. Recovering from a broken bone or fracture takes an average of eight weeks to heal and a regular physical therapy routine. For broken bone rehabilitation, not only is there a fracture in the bone structure, but there are often soft tissues that have been damaged in the process. After being put in a cast, the immobilization of that healing aid leads to joint stiffness and muscle weakness. Therefore, it is critical to slowly regain that muscle strength to make your body feel as good as new. Whatever your post-surgical needs are, South Coast Post Acute has all the resources you need to make an efficient recovery.

On average, a fractured bone will heal over the course of six weeks. The physical therapists at South Coast Post Acute work with you to prevent post-fracture stiffness and weakness in your joints and muscles while your fracture is healing. After the bone has healed, your physical therapist can work with you on regaining full range of motion and muscle strength near and over the fracture site. Our 24-hour, skilled nurses, physicians, physical therapists, and rehabilitation specialists at South Coast Post Acute work with you for your most optimal healing to get you back to your highest level of functionality. Learn more about South Coast’s broken bone rehabilitation and our commitment to optimal healing, click here.  


Trust South Coast Post Acute for rehabilitation after a fall-related injury.

At South Coast Post Acute, we are by your side through every step of your post-hospitalization journey. With compassionate and exceptional staff, we support all of your medical and health goals.

Learn more about our exceptional services and discover for yourself why Santa Ana’s South Coast Post Acute is Southern California’s post-acute community of choice.  


Real People. Remarkable Care. South Coast Post Acute.

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