In this blog, I discuss how to respond to a fall and how to investigate repeated falls.
If anyone falls and experiences pain, or is unable to get up from the floor independently, it is recommended to take precaution and call 911.
Especially in cases where the dementia of the person who fell is impairing communication, there may be a broken bone or other serious injury that the faller is unable to report. A caregiver should take precaution to avoid injuring the person who has repeated falls or is suffering injuries themselves while lifting them up. The risk of these things happening is too high.
If 911 is called, the paramedics may not transfer the person who fell to a hospital but can at least assess for injuries and take action to prevent further injuries.
It is important for everyone to have a plan to call for help if they fall, in case of serious injury or the inability to get back up on their own.
What are the Next Steps?
After the immediate situation is resolved, the next step is to call the primary care doctor and schedule a follow up in order to inform the primary care physician of the repeated falls, regardless of whether emergency care was needed. The doctor will want to perform his or her own analysis of the fall and may recommend some diagnostic tests.
Even if the initial fall did not result in injury, there may be emerging medical condition that is underlying the repeated falls, such as urinary tract infection, medication side effects, or other medical problems that need further exploration.
Ask the physician if there are further steps that can be taken, such as a referral for physical therapy, a medication change or a nutritional recommendation, to prevent future falls.
For Repeated Falls
I recommend for anyone who is experiencing unexplained repeated falls to get checked out by an expert in fall prevention. There are physicians and physical therapists who specialize in this area and can do an evaluation of possible causes of repeated falls.
Repeated falls can also be due to physical problems, commonly involving the inner ear or the feet, which cause balance difficulties.
Some of the inner ear treatments are very effective in only one treatment session. Inner ear exercises are proven to help all people improve balance, even if an inner ear problem is not the cause of the repeated falls.
If an inner ear problem is the cause in repeated falls, it may interfere with the benefits of exercise so medical evaluation and vestibular rehabilitation is recommended to avoid repeated falls.
You can find a Vestibular Physician or Physical Therapist to assess the cause(s) of repeated falls in your local area at the Vestibular Disorders Association, vestibular.org
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.