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Published on August 24, 2015

Every 13 Seconds an Adult Falls, Treated in an Emergency Center: Watch Your Step

Even the most ordinary tasks can result in a serious injury; that’s what happened to Barbara Martin and Francis Paslay.

Each year, millions of adults, age 65 and older, experience a fall. Falls cause moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures, lacerations and head traumas, and can increase the risk of an early death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It hurt more than being in labor”

In April 2015, Barbara Martin was hanging a wind chime in her carport; an activity she has performed hundreds of times.

Barbara has more than 30 chimes hanging around her home, because she enjoys the way they sound in the evening breeze.

“They say every time you hear ringing, an angel is getting its wings,” she said. “It gives you a good feeling.”

She ignored her step ladder as it started to teeter. Straining to reach the hook for the wind chime, Barbara and the ladder toppled over and she landed on the pavement.

“I never thought once that I had broken a bone,” she said. “It hurt more than being in labor.”

She learned she had broken her hip once she arrived at Spartanburg Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center. Barbara underwent surgery where surgeons put two pins in her hip. As Barbara was recovering, her nurses and friends urged her to receive inpatient rehabilitation at Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care.

“I was stubborn and just wanted to go home, thinking I would be fine on my own,” Barbara said. “But physical therapy was the best thing I could have done.”

After just four weeks of physical therapy, Barbara is able to walk easily and continues with her daily routines.

“I just looked up for a second”

Francis Parlay was leaving the courthouse where her husband works one Friday afternoon in May 2014.

“I looked up at the sky, thinking that it looked like it was going to storm,” Francis said. “The next thing I knew I was on the ground.”

Francis fell as she was stepping down off the curb while walking to her car and broke her ankle. As she predicted, it started to storm once she arrived at the Emergency Center at Spartanburg Medical Center.

Francis had a plate and nine screws placed in her ankle and spent a week at Spartanburg Medical Center. For 12 weeks, she couldn’t put any pressure on her foot and was confined to a wheelchair for four weeks. To help her get back on her feet, Francis underwent inpatient rehab at the Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and physical therapy at the YMCA through Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

It wasn’t until October when Francis was able to walk or drive.

“I was so happy to be able to drive,” she said. “I’m the taxi driver and errand runner in the family and I wasn’t able to do any of that after my injury. All I could do was sit at home. I was exercising regularly and I couldn’t do that either, which resulted in weight gain.”

Watching Their Steps

Both women say they are more cautious after their falls, watching the ground more as they walk and wearing sensible shoes while running errands.

Barbara and Francis don’t want others to suffer the same way they did. To prevent falls, here are some safety tips you should follow:

What can I do to prevent a fall at home?
• Exercise regularly – Focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance.
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications – both prescription and over-the-counter to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
• Get your eyes checked – Have an eye doctor examine your eyes at least once a year and update your eye glasses to maximize your vision.
• Make your home safer – Reduce trip hazards by removing clutter, add handrails inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, add nonslip mats to the tub or shower, secure loose rugs, keep necessities within easy reach.
• Wear sensible shoes – well fitting, low heeled, rubber soled shoes can help you keep your footing.
• Keep things well lit – make sure you can see clearly at all times, add nightlights to your bedroom and bathroom, store flashlights where they’re easy to reach, turn on the lights before going up or down the stairs.

Spartanburg Medical Center

Part of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS), Spartanburg Medical Center (SMC) is a research and teaching hospital licensed for 540 beds with more than 500 physicians on staff.
SMC offers state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment for residents in the five-county area in North and South Carolina. SMC’s services include Level I Trauma Care Emergency Services; Level III Neonatal Intensive Care; Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute; Heart Center; Hospice; Josey-Bearden Center for Breast Health; Women; and Children. U.S. News & World Report named SMC the best regional hospital in South Carolina for 2014 and the hospital earned high-performing status in nine areas: cardiology and heart surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery; geriatrics; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology.

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through four hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center, Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and Union Medical Center. SRHS also includes Ellen Sagar Nursing Center, 113-bed long-term care, skilled nursing facility that offers nursing care and rehabilitation services. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina in 2014-15. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award.

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