Q:  Mr. Pedometer, is falling the most serious risk for the elderly?

A:  That depends on how you define “elderly.” Surprisingly, those in their 50s and 60s are more apt to fall than older folks, according to a study in the Journal of Allied Health.  The scary part is, falling is more apt to result in traumatic brain injury than any other cause.

An article in AARP Magazine by Michael Zimmerman included an interview with stuntwoman Alexa Marcigliano on how to make an inevitable fall as safe as possible.  “Be smooth, don’t panic, stay loose,” is her short answer, but she then elaborated on four points to ensure a safe crash landing:

  • STAY BENT – When you lose your balance, get ready to fall by bending your elbows and knees. If you panic, you are apt to become rigid, resulting in injuries doctors call FOOSH:  “fall on outstretched hand.” That likely would result in a broken wrist or elbow.
  • PROTECT YOUR HEAD – When falling forward, be sure to turn your head to the side. If falling backward, tuck your chin to your chest to avoid having your head hit the ground.
  • LAND ON THE MEAT – If you keep your elbows and knees bent and try to land on muscle (back, buttocks, or thighs), you are less likely to fracture your elbows, knees, tailbone, or hips.
  • KEEP FALLING – It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you give in to the fall, the safer it will be. By rolling with the fall, you spread the impact across a larger part of your body instead of concentrating the impact on one area.

No matter what your age, there is a very high possibility that you will suffer a fall at some point.  These four tips could mean the difference between merely being bruised and being hospitalized with broken bones and head trauma.