Health care professionals raise awareness about fall prevention

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The first day of fall also happens to be National Fall Prevention Day.

But this is a different kind of fall. We are talking about fall injuies.

In Arizona last year, falls sent nearly 33,000 people to the emergency room and caused nearly 700  deaths. And it can all happen in an instant.

Claudia Delaney still doesn't know what caused her to fall.

“I was thirsty, went to the kitchen for a drink of water,” she said. “The last thing I remember is just walking around the edge of my kitchen, woke up, and that was it.”

But the blow to her head still has her in rehab more than a year later.

”I looked so bad. I was totally purple,” she remembered. “You couldn't recognize my face at all.”

And the injury left her right arm and leg weakened.

It is a scenario paramedic Kelly Liebermann sees way too often.

“We've ran over probably 8,000 fall injuries, a few hundred lift assists already this year,” he said.

Sonja Smith, the injury prevention coordinator for Banner Good Samaritan Hospital, added, “It's our No. 1 injury that's coming into our hospital and all over the United States.”

But Liebermann said, “They are things that can be prevented, so we are going out in the community; we're bringing education and awareness for this National Fall Prevention Day.”

Which is why Liebermann, Smith and other health care professionals were putting on a happy face and happy dance at Metrocenter on Thursday. They want to make sure people are aware of things they can do at home to stay up and healthy.

“We want to make sure you do home safety checks," Smith said. "At your home, you don't want throw rugs, you want to make sure there's good lighting, and you want to make sure you have things within reach.”

And she says prevention is key because the falls can cause long-term problems.

“You have your hip injuries and your head injuries. The No. 1 injury is your traumaic brain injury," Smith said.

That is exactly what happened to Delaney.

“I think it kind of presents itself as a stroke type of a problem,” she told us of the after effects.

She is still working on her balance at Swan Rehab in Phoenix.

“I can pretty much do anything, maybe slower and more carefully," she said.

And at home she is also taking steps to make sure another fall isn't in her future.

"Now I use night lights all over the house," she said.