When Should You Seek Medical Advice After a Fall?

The short answer is you should ALWAYS seek medical attention after a fall. Learn more about the unseen and unusual consequences of a fall that can cause serious problems if left unattended.

senior woman seeking medical advice after a fall
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Anyone can be hurt by an accidental fall. However, our seniors are more vulnerable and may suffer from severe health complications after a fall. In most cases, a fall only happens by accident, and we cannot blame anyone for it. What follows after is however our full responsibility. Will your loved one suffer from severe complications later in their life simply because you disregarded a fall?

Undoubtedly, the last thing anyone wants to see is to see mom, dad, grandpa, or even a friend suffer from a fall. Not after bringing us up and showering us with so much love throughout our lives. That said, it is important to seek medical advice to fix any problems caused by a fall. More so, caregivers must be at the forefront of making sure incase a fall happens, the right measures are taken.

Not only should our elders be protected but so should every single individual. This article will shed more light on the impact of falls as well as the necessary control measures.

Usual Consequences of a Fall

Broken bones an arms and legs or twisted ankles and wrists

One of the reasons a fall should be taken seriously is because of its serious medical consequences. A fracture is the most serious medical consequence of a fall. In fact, more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall.

A fracture not only makes our loved ones be in immense pain but they can trigger infections. Normally, fractures are not easy to treat, especially for the elderly. Research also shows that the mortality rate caused by fractures is 10-20%.

Head Injuries

A head injury normally happens after a serious fall that causes the head to get hit. For example, falling off the stairs can cause serious head injuries. In some cases, the victim may experience a brain injury.

Some even pass on as a result of head injuries showing how serious a fall can get. In case of a head injury, caregivers must get medical help within the hour. This is because early intervention may help to prevent serious complications.

Muscle Injuries

This is probably the consequence of the least impact on the victim’s health. Even though muscle strains and pulls may be painful, they are not as life-threatening as fractures and head injuries. Nevertheless, immediate medical attention is needed in all falls to make sure that the impact of the fall is minimized.

Cuts and Wounds

Depending on where a person falls, there is always a chance of suffering from a cut or bruise. When people fall on rough surfaces, they are likely to get bruised. It is worse when the fall happens on sharp objects. Severe cuts may be sustained, causing massive loss of blood. Blood loss in seniors can be very risky because they usually have pre-existing health complications like diabetes.

Caregivers must always be trained on how to give first aid in case a fall causes cuts and bruises. Not only does this help in managing blood loss but also in preventing infections. Open tissues on the skin are prone to infections like tetanus, and that is why medical help should be provided immediately.

senior woman helping husband up after he had a fall
Always consult with your doctor after any fall – even if you are able to get up ok and feel fine.

Possible Unseen Consequences of a Fall

Psychological Consequences

This can be displayed through a “post-fall syndrome”. This is basically when the victim experiences anxiety because they fear falling again. It is a common consequence among our grandmas who have been fall victims. They tend to fear any sort of movement, dreading that they may fall and get hurt again.

In some cases, the psychological consequences can be very severe. The victim can begin to lose their self-confidence and experience decreased self-esteem. Additionally, family members may become overprotective, leading to social isolation and restriction to engage in basic activities. This often causes a decrease in the victim’s quality of life.

Family Consequences

After a fall, the whole family of the victim is usually affected. In case your dad, mom, aunty, grandma, or grandma falls and becomes injured, the whole family will have to offer support until recovery. This means reorganizing everyone’s schedule to make sure that you all spend time with the fall victim. In serious cases, someone might be forced to quit their job.

Another way that falls lead to family consequences is by affecting the finances of the household. Medical attention is needed after a fall, and this can be costly, especially where it takes longer to recover. The fall victim will also be more dependent, meaning the family must hire a caregiver. All these are added costs that will affect the family adversely.

Society Consequences

In cases where falls are serious and fatal, the victim may develop complications leading to death. This affects the whole society in general. Seniors and elderly individuals are an important part of society. They have more experience and knowledge about life than anyone else. Some seniors are founders of great organizations and movements.

Society generally relies on seniors for advice. Just like the way we go to our grandparents when we need insight on something in our lives. Losing the elderly is, therefore, losing great assets. We must, therefore, keep them around for as long as possible. That said, falls must be avoided at all costs.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

Falls can vary in their severity and impact. This means that some falls may have no serious health impacts, while some require emergency medical intervention. Basically, if your fall victim experiences any of the signs below, the caregiver should seek medical help immediately:

Severe/lingering pain

If the victim complains of severe pain in any part of their body, there’s a high chance that they have been seriously injured. It could be a sign of internal bleeding, which must be treated by a medical professional.

Headaches

Experiencing headaches after a fall should not be taken lightly. It is hard to tell if a patient has suffered head injuries, but a headache should be the first obvious sign. A headache could imply the development of blood clots or brain injury. This must be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible.

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Look for signs like swelling joints that might indicate an significant injury has occurred.

Swelling

In the case of arm twists, ankle twists, and fractures, the injured area usually shows signs of swelling. Swelling indicates an internal problem or injury. This can only be assessed using scans that can only be done by a medical doctor.

Bruising

As much as bruising is an external sign, it can cause more health problems such as infections. Medical help should be sought to make sure that bruises are well treated and managed.

Loss of balance

Some fall victims, especially seniors, may lose their balance after a fall. Being unable to stand or walk properly could be a sign that spinal injuries occurred. Moreover, patients with brain injuries tend to lose their balance as well. For this reason, you must seek immediate medical intervention if the victim shows this sign.

Stomach pain

When a fall victim complains of stomach pain, it could mean that their internal organs were injured. Some internal organs are very crucial in how the body functions. A malfunction in such organs could cause serious consequences such as death. This is why medical assistance should be sought immediately.

In a nutshell, there are main signs that should guide you as to when you need immediate medical help. However, it is best to note that medical attention should be sought after every fall. Only a medical professional should ascertain that a fall did not cause any injury.

Summary and Final Recommendations

In conclusion, it is essential to note that there are many ways a fall can be prevented. This is because prevention is better than cure. For elderly persons, effort should be made to make their floors slide proof.

Practicing safe falling techniques and fall prevention measures are important for the rest of us as well. Safe and fall-proof staircases and balconies can also be used to prevent falls. Most importantly, seek immediate medical advice after a fall. A delay in seeking medical help is what causes the consequences of a fall to be more health-damaging.

Sources

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Avatar for Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®
About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS® 415 Articles
Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather
I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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