Stay Ahead of Head Injuries

Experts offer tips on keeping homes safe

SATURDAY, Oct. 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- In 2006, an estimated 1.1 million people were treated at U.S. hospital emergency departments for head injuries related to common household products and settings such as ladders, steps, and showers, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.

The actual number of head injuries suffered by people in their homes is likely greater, since many injuries are treated at doctor's offices and immediate-care centers, or people don't seek any medical treatment, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).

Many head injuries are caused by falls, which are the leading cause of death and serious injury among Americans 65 and older. Among older adults, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, which account for 46 percent of fatal falls among older adults.

In addition, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and severe injury in children who suffer falls.

Simple precautions can help prevent falls and serious or deadly head injuries, says the AANS, which offers the following safety tips:

  • Secure loose electrical cords and put away toys and other items that are lying around on floors, stairs, etc.
  • Use safety gates and install window guards to protect young children.
  • Secure rugs and lift them periodically to inspect the backing for wear.
  • Don't walk on slippery, freshly washed floors and avoid floor waxes.
  • Install grab bars and handrails if you are frail or elderly.
  • Improve the lighting in your home; dim lighting can increase the risk of falls.
  • Install night lights in halls and bathrooms and keep a flashlight near your bed.
  • Store items in easy-to-reach places; use stepstools or ladders only when absolutely necessary.
  • Check all stair railings and steps.
  • Don't wear any clothing that interferes with your vision.
  • Wear proper shoes with slip-resistant soles.
  • Inspect and remove debris from walkways, driveways, porches and yards.
  • In winter, remove ice and snow from areas where people walk.
  • Inspect and remove debris from lawns before mowing or gardening.
  • Store outdoor equipment properly.
  • Make sure ladders are stable and secure before you use them.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about fall prevention.

SOURCE: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, news release, October 2007
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