September 30, 2014

Fall Hazards Are Subtle

Babies learning to walk do not get hurt when they fall because they are 18 inches (45 cm) tall.  When I fall I go crashing to the ground like a tree that has just been cut down.  Stroke survivors with impaired balance need procedures and equipment that prevent falls.  It is the small things we do not pay attention to that trip us up.  I do not fall because I crash into my sofa.  I fall when I do not lift my paralyzed leg high enough to stop my toe from catching the edge of a rug which lifts the rug up. The rugs in the photo keep the floor dry when people at church track in rain and snow.  I have fallen when my toes caught the edge of this type of rug.  I learned the hard way to look down to see where the edge of the rug is before I step onto it. 

Another procedure keeps me safe at bedtime.  I rely on my vision to tell me if I am vertical.  If I turn around after I darken a room by turning the lamp off I stumble badly.  I quickly learned to make sure I am turned to face the lighted room I am heading towards before I look down to find the light switch.  It is a relief to find the lit room as soon as I look up. 

If these procedures sound trivial, let me tell you about a stroke survivor who could have ended up in a long-term care facility because of a bad fall.  He has impaired balance so the hospital staff gave him a long-handled reacher so he would not lean over to pick up objects on the floor.  But using a reacher at home was frustrating.  If he was downstairs the reacher was upstairs.  If he was at one end of the house the reacher was at the other end of the house.  This repeated aggravation tempted him to reach down to pick up something even though he knew it was not safe.  He fell and broke his sound wrist.  When he finally got back home he bought three more reachers.  A reacher is always close because he has two reachers per floor with one at each end of the house.

I learned not to let subtle fall hazards lull me into a false sense of security because they do not make me fall every time I encounter them.  Are there hazards in your home you are not paying attention to, like a poorly lit front porch or extension cords snaking across a room?

1 comment:

  1. Having a reacher in each house floor is a great idea ... has to be there when needed!

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