Getting up demo included in fall prevention program

Shawn Hardy
Physical therapist Jeff Telemeco of Peak Performance demonstrates how to use a chair to help get back up after a fall during the Stepping On session last week. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Stepping On is a fall prevention program, but last week participants learned what to do if they fall.

Jeff Telemeco of Peak Performance gave a physical demonstration during Stepping On at Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Stepping On is organized twice a year by local parish nurses Lorna Thomas, Sue Bell and Connie Overcash and more than a dozen seniors are participating in the six-week spring session. The weekly meetings feature a variety of local experts, practical information and handouts.

Before he got on the floor and back up again, Telemeco gave a refresher on strength and balance exercises.

"How do you know when to stop?" the physical therapist asked. "When you're tired or you start to cheat. Don't try to do more than you can do correctly."

*** If you fall ***

Telemeco told participants that against their instincts they should not put their arms out to try to catch themselves if they fall. That's likely to result in a broken wrist.

"Kind of go limp and keep your chin in," he said. "Try to relax ... I know it sounds crazy, but the more you relax the less you'll get hurt."

Lying flat on his back, Telemeco said the first thing someone should do after a fall is "make sure you're OK. Do a mental inventory. If you're in bad pain, don't move."

Someone at risk of falling should have personal emergency device or carry a phone, he advised.

If all body parts seem all right, the next step is to roll onto your side like a baby and rest, then get on your hands and knees and crawl to a chair.

Put your hand on the chair, stand up, hold on, walk your feet around and sit down.

"Once you get up, you really should get checked out," Telemeco explained. "Don't be the guy that says, "I'm too embarrassed.'"

He said the adrenaline rush of a fall can mask injuries including cracked ribs, pelvic fracture or shoulder dislocation.

Telemeco's presentations, laced with humor, also include the proper way to walk and how to use equipment like walkers and canes.