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First Day of Fall Is Fall Prevention Day



September 22, 2010

PHOENIX - Today is National Fall Prevention Day, aimed at reducing falls that killed 730 Arizonans last year and sent more than 116,000 others to emergency rooms. Paula Segebarth, injury prevention coordinator at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, says falls will soon replace car crashes, shootings and stabbings as the number one cause of traumatic injury, especially for those over age 65. She says women fall more often, but it's men that are more often killed.

"They take the riskier behaviors. They're up on the ladders trying to put up the Christmas lights, those kinds of things. The women tend to suffer more from osteoporosis and those kinds of things, so they end up breaking bones."

Segebarth says the best fall prevention strategies are home modification, managing medications and keeping physically active. She lists a number of easy strategies to make homes safer and prevent injuries due to falls.

"They can be as simple as pulling up throw rugs, keeping cords out of the walkway, keeping your walkways clutter-free. You could have grab bars installed, even just a non-slip surface in the bathtub."

She cautions people to be aware of medications with side effects that can put users at higher risk of falling.

"Some cardiac medications, some blood pressure medications can affect you. For instance, if you stand up too quickly, it can make you a little woozy, a little dizzy. And so, stand up slowly instead of just hopping up and trying to walk."

And staying physically active, she says, helps people maintain flexibility and balance. More information is on the Arizona Fall Prevention Coalition website, www.azstopfalls.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ