The Dangers of Falling: Part 3

  • March 2, 2017

 By Matt Sizemore, KION  |  March 2, 2017

Salinas, CA – Just a few short weeks ago, Princetta Blackmon fell in her bathtub at home in Salinas. She was taken to Natividad Medical Center where doctors diagnosed her with several injuries, and since then, things haven’t been the same.

“Since then I’ve just been falling. i could be standing up and i just fall back for no apparent reason. There’s nothing that I’m doing at a particular time that could facilitate the falls,” said fall victim, Princetta Blackmon.

Like many fall victims, Princetta now regularly attends physical therapy.

“Every fall is different and and every circumstance is handled differently. At the end of the day as an outpatient therapist, what we want to do is get that patient back to what they were originally doing before the fall occurred,” said Natividad Medical Center’s Manager of Therapy Services, Blair Limon.

Therapists mainly focus on three things: Strength, balance, and flexibility.

“Flexibility is a big issue with balance because our bodies need to be able to go through the full range of movement in order to correct ourselves so if we start to go one direction and we can’t correct that or we don’t have that movement, we’re more likely to fall,” said Limon.

That seems to be helping this fall victim.

“More confident, and my legs can get stronger, my arms are stronger, my
back is stronger,” said Blackmon.

But many people who’ve suffered a fall aren’t getting the help they may need.

“One in four of our senior citizens ages 65 and up, they have a fall each year, and less than
50% of them actually report that to their doctors,” said Natividad Medical Center’s Supervisor of Therapy Services, Wendy Soesman.

So why would a senior do that? The answer’s simple. They don’t want to feel like they can’t do the things they’ve always done.

“As we age, there’s a lot of things that diminish and it can be pretty scary to have that loss of independence,” said Soesman.

“Having that concern is understandable, but the fear can actually lead to a fall itself,” said Natividad Medical Center’s Trauma Prevention and Outreach Nurse, Lorraine Artinger.

Like most accidents, the best way to avoid falls is prevention. Things like searching for loose rugs, cleaning clutter around the house, not overreaching for things, good lighting at all times, handrails in showers or near toilets, and always having a way to contact someone.

“Keep a cell phone or a piece of paper by their nightstand with those emergency numbers there. that way, you know sometimes when trauma happens we can’t remember someone’s phone number, and having it already written down for them can really help in those situations,” said Soesman.

The Salinas Fire Department responds to lots of emergency calls involving falls.

“Be prepared, you know? Have a plan at home if something happens, know who’s gonna call 911, know that we need an access in to your home if it’s locked up, ensure that you have a point of contact that can be there to help you, and in our bad weather times, make sure you have enough assets and resources at home to take care of yourself for the next few days, including your medications and your pets,” said Salinas Fire Department Caption, Scott Houchin.