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Arthritis NZ welcomes campaign to highlight danger of falls

Apr 22nd, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

ARTHRITIS NEW ZEALAND has welcomed the Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s campaign to raise awareness of falls and how to prevent them.

Its CEO, Sandra Kirby, said the Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals’ April Falls campaign was a good reminder to arthritis sufferers, who were  more susceptible to falls slips and trips.   “Falls can result in serious harm. So we welcome the April Falls campaign as a valuable initiative,” she says.

Ms Kirby says people with arthritis in their lower limbs may have difficulty maintaining their balance, and those taking strong painkilling medicines are also at great risk of falls.

Injury resulting from falls is a common problem that can have serious consequences, ranging from minor wounds through to loss of independence or death.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board aims to educate people about what they can do to prevent falls and  to minimise the harm from falls should the occur.

The Board’s director of nursing, Julie Robinson, says most falls happen out in the community, but some happen in rest homes and hospitals.

“On average 60 falls, trips and slips are reported by patients and staff every month within Bay of Plenty District Health Board facilities, and of these falls, trips and slips, approximately one will result in serious harm,” she says.

She says the falls that happen in hospitals can be distressing and often result in longer stays in hospital.

Ms Robinson says the campaign aims to reinforce the message that the prevention of falls is everyone’s business.

“We have a number of fall prevention strategies in place, ranging from hip protectors, non-slip socks and fall-risk warning charts,” she says.

Falls are the leading cause of hospitalisation as the result of injury and one of the top three causes of injury-related death in New Zealand.

An information display has been set up in Tauranga and Whakatane Hospitals and there are free booklets with strength and balance exercises that patients can do at home.

“Improving strength and balance has been proven to reduce the risk of falls. Staying physically active is the single most important thing you can do to remain fit and independent,” says Ms Robinson.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board recommends people get their vision checked, exercise regularly, make their homes safe and check their medications with their GP.

As well as this, Arthritis New Zealand recommends simple household changes such as not having loose rugs, having handrails for stairs and using appropriate ladders for reaching heights.

The Ministry of Health estimates that 530,000 New Zealanders suffer from arthritis, and this figure is expected to rise with the rising obesity problem.

Osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis are the three most common forms of arthritis and they are all linked to increasing weight and an ageing population.



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