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Falls - what do you do when a fall occurs?

Neuro Café 29th September 2021 by Linda S

What should we do if we fall? Last week we discussed fall avoidance. This week, what is the best approach to take if you do fall over? More details can be found on slides in the Members’ Area of the LEGS website.

What to do if you fall

  • Try to stay calm

  • Take time to assess the situation, are you hurt? It can take a few minutes to feel any pain from potential injuries.

  • What you do next depends on whether you are hurt or if you are able to get up on your own or if you require assistance.

  • If you have a falls plan, try to go through it step by step. You can remind others with you of the plan.

  • If you can get up, use stable furniture to assist or techniques that you have learnt or been taught in the past to assist you off the floor.

  • If you are hurt or unable to get up from the floor, try to call for help. Bang on the floor/wall, try using your mobile or landline if you can reach (or if you can, crawl to it), pendant/community alarm or Siri/Alexa/google home.

  • If you remain on the floor it's important that you stay warm, so try and reach a blanket or coat and a pillow for comfort. Move to carpet if you can or away from a draught.

How to get off the floor

If you are not hurt and feel well enough, you could try to get up from the floor. The best way will differ from person to person, but as a guide you can do the following steps:

If you find a person who has fallen

Here is a video by Digital Health and Care Scotland, which advises what to do if you find someone who has fallen.

Do not try and lift someone yourself - you can make injuries worse or hurt yourself. Call 111 or an ambulance if they have hit their head or injured themselves.

Keep calm and reassure the person. Getting help quickly can make recovery better.

Useful tips

Calling for help and communication

Always have a plan in place. Pendant alarms can be supplied by your local borough and alert services if you have a fall. Ensure you wear this at all times. This service varies depending on your borough and there will generally always be a cost.

If you have a mobile, ensure it is charged and topped up and easy to reach. Alexa, Siri or Google Home can call a helper's number for you via voice recognition.

Ensuring that a family member or neighbour has a spare key will allow people to get to you quickly. You can also consider leaving a spare key in a police-approved key safe. This is a secure box with a combination lock that you can keep outside your home. This can be accessed by anyone that you have shared the combination code with.

Backwards chaining method

Backward chaining is a sequence of movements combined together to help teach someone to be able to get down to the floor safely. Once learnt, in reverse, it can be used as a safe and effective way to get up from the floor.

Regular practice in this set of exercises will ensure you are able to get up from the floor if you fall.

Only complete backward chaining in consultation with a therapist or your exercise instructor. Do not attempt any stage on your own if you do not think that you will be able to get up again. Make sure you use a sturdy chair with arms, placed on a carpeted area with plenty of room to lie down. Backwards chain the steps. Try and get safely down then learn in reverse.

It is a good idea to practise and to practise with another person; e.g find a device to get you off the floor.

A leaflet about backward chaining can be found on the LEGS members area in resources.

LEGS members experiences and tips

One person was saved by having her phone on her when a pigeon flew into kitchen and startled her. Siri allowed her to act even when the phone was locked.

Stay calm. Evaluate. Really assess the situation. Make a plan of what to do if you do fall. Compose yourself, get your breath. Don’t rush into getting up without having a plan - you might have another fall. Having a plan in place helps. It is good to have a plan ready, because you have already thought about what to do in the situation and will help you stay calm.

Think about falls prevention - see last week's blog for lots of resources and information about what you can do to prevent a fall. This website is also a useful resource which is NHS approved and made by physiotherapists. However, remember this is not specific advice for individuals and always follow advice given by your doctor or health care professional.

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