The danger of falling is a risk that increases as we age, which can also bring injuries that can be quite severe. In fact, it’s such a big public health problem that the Centers for Disease Control has studied the problem in depth. According to the CDC, millions of seniors 65 and older fall each year. One out of five falls causes serious injuries including broken bones or a head injury. Injuries from falls result in 800,000 hospitalizations each year, the CDC says, mostly for hip fractures or head injuries.
When it comes to addressing injuries from falls, the goals for helping older patients is to rebuild strength, regain function and avoid reinjury. To meet these goals, short-term inpatient rehabilitation is often the best choice, allowing seniors to recover and heal while gaining strength strategies to avoid future falls when they come home.
Injuries From A Fall: Why Is Short-Term Rehab So Important?
In most cases, injuries from a fall are sudden and unexpected. Treatment options can be more optimistic for these types of injuries because, unlike chronic degenerative conditions, there is often the possibility of full recovery and a return to regular activities. Short-term inpatient rehab can go a long way in helping patients achieve that recovery. Short term rehab offers professional supervision and easy access to a range of therapies in the initial stages of recovery following hospitalization. This allows patients to focus on healing and getting stronger rather than on daily activities like meal prep and housework. It also gives loved ones time to prepare for the patient’s return home and make changes to the patient’s living environment.
Injuries From A Fall: How Can Short-Term Rehab Help?
With fractures and head injuries as the most serious dangers from falls by seniors, here’s a look at some of the ways short-term rehab can help patients heal and get on the path to recovery and returning home:
Hip Fractures and Other Broken Bones
In the case of a hip fracture or another broken bone, the main role of short-term rehab is to help the patient safely regain strength and mobility. Our team of professionals offers physical therapy with a program of supervised exercises moving from extremely low impact range of motion exercises to treadmill, stationary bikes and stairs. We also have occupational therapists to help patients use walkers safely and help them adapt their approach to daily activities with lots of tips for moving around, picking up objects and learning to complete daily tasks like dressing and bathing at home while the injury continues to heal. This goes a long way toward preventing re-injury and helping patients get back to their real lives.
Head or Brain Injury
Many seniors suffer from subdural hematomas after a fall. These happen when blood vessels break between the brain and the membrane covering the brain, causing blood to collect in the skull. According to the Mayo Clinic, subdural hematomas can be life-threatening if left untreated so in many cases, the blood needs to be removed, often through surgery.
The National Institutes of Health says mild traumatic brain injury via a fall is common in seniors ages 65 and older and is becoming more frequent. Older patients have a higher risk of death or long-term injury from a head injury, so prompt treatment and follow-up rehab are both keys to survival and ongoing quality of life. The NIH cites inpatient rehabilitation as one of the keys to a successful recovery for seniors.
Many brain injuries can cause neurological damage so both physical and occupational therapies are key to helping patients relearn basic tasks like eating and drinking. In some cases, speech may be affected so a qualified speech therapist can be an important part of the rehab team. According to the Mayo Clinic, recovering from a mild TBI can take up to three months of intense rehab.
Injuries from a Fall: Coming Home Safely
Avoiding another fall and rehospitalization once the patient is home is a key part of inpatient rehab. Occupational therapy can also give you and your loved ones strategies for making your house safer. All of these projects can be tackled by loved ones while patients recover in inpatient rehab. Some of the tips recommended by the CDC include:
- Getting rid of rugs and other objects that can cause patients to slip or trip
- Adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet
- Putting railings on both sides of stairs
- Adding more or brighter light bulbs to help patients see better in their homes
Injuries From A Fall: Why Inpatient Rehab Is Best
So often, coming straight home from a hospitalization after an injury from a fall can be daunting, leaving patients without the strength and support they need. Inpatient short-term rehab allows patients stress-free healing and recovery along with strategies to allow them to return to their daily life and activities while giving loved ones guidance in making the return home as safe and supportive as possible.