Individuals involved in slip and fall accidents lead to around 9 million emergency room visits a year. Recovering from a severe injury suffered in a slip and fall accident requires extensive medical care and physical rehabilitation. Older adults are susceptible to slip and fall injuries. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries of older adults and are a common hazard in nursing homes, where between half of the residents fall each year. The most common injuries sustained include:
Cuts and Abrasions
Cuts and abrasions can be minor to severe. Leg and arm abrasions are the most common, followed by wounds to the head and hips. These injuries require superficial treatment and possibly stitches. However, if the impact of the fall is severe, cuts and abrasions can overlap more severe injuries like concussions and broken bones.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries often do not get noticed, so individuals don’t realize they have a mild tissue injury until days or weeks after the fall. Soft tissue injuries can range from minor ankle and/or wrist sprains to severe tears in tendons and ligaments. Left untreated, these injuries can lead to chronic pain conditions making the body more vulnerable to further injuries. Even when individuals feel fine after a slip and fall accident, they are recommended to seek medical care or consult an injury specialist as soft tissue injuries don’t often produce immediate symptoms.
Sprains and Strains
A slip and fall accidents often happen as a result of taking an uneven or awkward step. Individuals also often react with their hands in front to try to cushion the fall. Both the awkward step and pushing the hands out can cause the wrist or ankle to tear, causing a sprain or a strain. The ligaments do not circulate a lot of blood, meaning that healing and recovery can take a significant amount of time.
A fall can result in stressful forces on the bones of the body. In slip and fall accidents, hip, wrist, and ankle fractures are the most common bones that get broken. The older an individual is, the more likely they will break a bone from a slip and fall accident.
More than 95% of broken hips are caused by falls, according to the CDC. Hip fractures often require surgery that can include implantation of an artificial hip and hospitalization for about a week, followed by extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Knee injuries can result from a slip and fall, especially if the knee gets rotated the wrong way or twisted. Knees are made up of bone and ligaments, meaning it could take a long to heal and recover. Dislocation of the patella is also a possibility that could require knee reconstruction.
Neck and Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder and neck injuries can be the result of landing on the shoulder or neck. They can also occur from overexertion when trying to right oneself during a fall. Neck injuries can range from:
- Muscle sprains
- Spinal injuries
Shoulder injuries can result in:
- Shoulder dislocation
- Torn nerves
- Collarbone breaks
Even the most minor neck and shoulder injuries can require surgery and rehabilitation.
Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
Severe impact on the body in a slip and fall accident can cause slipped or herniated discs and fractured vertebrae, causing significant pain and limiting mobility. An injury to the spinal cord can lead to temporary paralysis, permanent paralysis, neurologic and sensory impairments. According to the Mayo Clinic, falls cause more than a quarter of spinal cord injuries and the majority of spinal injuries among adults 65 and older.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries occur when an individual hits their head on a hard surface during a fall. Traumatic brain injuries can range from:
- Minor injuries like:
- Minor concussions
- To major injuries like:
- Skull fractures
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Severe traumatic brain injuries like:
- Brain function issues
- Loss of bodily control
A chiropractor will review imaging scans, medical history, and current symptoms to determine the best form of treatment. Inflammation is common and is the body’s defense to protect the injured area by slowing down the blood flow in that area to allow the body’s internal defenses to repair the injury. Sometimes the body overreacts to the problem and produces far more inflammation than is needed. Depending on the severity of the injury, various massage, manipulation techniques, and tools will be utilized to help the body heal itself.
Recovery and Swelling
Recovery is an essential part of individuals involved in physical training programs and after injury. A significant sign that the body has undergone intense physical exertion and requires recovery is swelling. Swelling occurs for several reasons and is the body’s response to tiny, microscopic muscle tears that arise from intense use. It is possible to see this swelling in body composition results. Recovery is about giving the body a chance to:
- Recover from the swelling to resume normal physical activities.
Courtney, T K et al. “Occupational slip, trip, and fall-related injuries–can the contribution of slipperiness be isolated?.” Ergonomics vol. 44,13 (2001): 1118-37. doi:10.1080/00140130110085538
Kannus, Pekka et al. “Prevention of falls and consequent injuries in elderly people.” Lancet (London, England) vol. 366,9500 (2005): 1885-93. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67604-0
Reuben, David B et al. “The Strategies to Reduce Injuries and Develop Confidence in Elders Intervention: Falls Risk Factor Assessment and Management, Patient Engagement, and Nurse Co-management.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society vol. 65,12 (2017): 2733-2739. doi:10.1111/jgs.15121
Rosen, Tony et al. “Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets.” Journal of injury & violence research vol. 5,1 (2013): 61-9. doi:10.5249/jivr.v5i1.177
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