According to a local research paper published in 2013 by KFL&A Public Health, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury emergency department visits and hospitalizations across all age groups. Burden of Injury in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington reports that from 2007-2011, there were 38,679 falls accounting for 30.2% of visits, and that 64.6% of unintentional injury related hospitalizations for all ages were due to falls.
Snow and ice are not the biggest culprit. Only 8.3% of falls were due to inclement weather. While young children and seniors account for the majority of people affected, groups between the ages of 20 and 65 are finding themselves in the ER because of falls. And, according to the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre, Ontario spent $2.8 billion in 2015 for direct and indirect health care costs related to falls.
While there are resources available online about how to prevent falls, I think it’s important for everyone to train themselves how to fall when / if it happens. Is there an ‘art’ to falling? Is there a way to reduce the impact and, in turn, the extent of injury, especially for those of us who are less malleable?
According to Breaking Your Fall: Gait Mechanics for Injury Prevention and How-To Fall Safely to Reduce Fall Related Injuries, there are definitely ways to fall properly:
- When you fall forward, land with your hands close together in front of your face, palms down. Turn your head to the side.
- When you fall sideways, do not reach out with an extended arm. If you do, there’s a good chance you may break your collarbone or wrist. Tuck your arm under you and roll to the back of your shoulder. Tuck your chin to your chest.
- When you fall backward, tuck your chin, bend at knees (squat), and slap both your hands and forearms to the ground (palms down and forearms flat) to reduce the impact.
These websites also discuss staying loose (tension in your body doesn’t allow for the absorption of force from a fall) and rolling into a fall (spread the force of the fall).
Of course, this is a lot to remember and your mind is definitely elsewhere as you’re falling to the ground. But, these recommendations could help prevent you from landing in the ER. For information on whether or not your fall warrants legal action, check out our article, Can I Sue For A Slip And Fall?