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Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute Recognizes National Trauma Awareness Month with Fall Prevention Education

The Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute joins the American Trauma Society, the Society of Trauma Nurses and trauma centers across the country in recognizing May as National Trauma Awareness Month, which aims to increase knowledge of trauma prevention and invoke change in the community.

This year’s focus, “Safe Steps for Seniors,” brings attention to falls as a leading cause of both non-fatal and fatal injuries for seniors in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 million adults – or one adult every 13 seconds – are treated in emergency centers for injuries related to a fall every year. More than 734,000 of these patients are hospitalized and upwards of 21,000 patients die from their injuries.

“For adults over the age of 65, who are already at an increased risk for many types of injuries, a simple fall can be devastating to their health and long-term wellbeing, if not fatal,” said Angie Garrett, senior project manager at Red Duke Trauma Institute. “Our goal is to help our patients and those in the community understand that while falls should be taken very seriously, they are largely preventable.”

Last year, falls were the number one cause of injury and death among adult patients treated at the Red Duke Trauma Institute. Included in these injuries were fragility fractures, which impact patients 55 and older who have suffered a fracture as a result of falling from standing height or below. Fragility fractures most commonly occur in the hip, spine and wrist, and cause patients to have longer recoveries and worse outcomes. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 24 percent of patients with a fragility fracture die within one year of the fall.

In partnership with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, the Red Duke Trauma Institute recently launched a Fragility Fracture Program aimed at early stabilization or surgery as well as reducing complications, mortality and length of stay for this specific population.

The Institute also promotes steps that seniors can take to decrease their risk of a fall including:

  • Participating in balance and exercise programs.
  • Talking to their healthcare providers about their fall risk.
  • Having their hearing and vision checked regularly.
  • Reviewing their medication regularly with a pharmacist or doctor.
  • Relying on family support.
  • Identifying and repairing home hazards that could increase the risk of falls, such as poor lighting, lack of hand rails, uneven stairs and throw rugs.

Additionally, the Red Duke Trauma Institute is utilizing National Trauma Awareness Month to provide suggestions to EMS partners on how they can help promote fall prevention. For example, EMS and fire department personnel have a unique opportunity to help patients identify home hazards and risks on lift assist calls, in particular.

“The home will remain a major source of safety risks for seniors if we aren’t working closely with the community to ensure our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are getting the attention they need to stay healthy and safe,” said Garrett, who oversees the Fragility Fracture Program. “As one of our fastest-growing populations, it is important that we’re keeping senior safety and fall prevention top of mind all year-round.”

For more information on fall prevention, click here.