Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation

Falls Evaluation

For the doctor, the evaluation of a person who falls starts with a medical history and physical examination. Further testing is common, and is determined by the medical history as much as the physical examination.

However, if you fall, (or a loved one) you must determine if you need to be evaluated by a doctor. Sometimes this becomes more challenging when you are trying to evaluate a loved one who may only be accessible by telephone.

Telephone Assessment:
There are a number of important things you need to determine in any person who falls.

Here are some of the most important questions:

If you in the position to examine the injured person, add the following:
  • Is their any swelling or tenderness overlying a bone or joint? Yes, consider bone fracture
  • Is their any tenderness or swelling overlying the chest? Yes, consider chest injury
  • Is their any tenderness or swelling overlying the abdomen? Yes, consider abdominal injury
  • Is their any tenderness or swelling overlying the back? Yes, consider back injury
  • Is their any deformity to a bone or joint? Yes, consider bone fracture
  • Is their any bleeding? Yes, consider laceration
  • Is the person moving all four extremities normally? No, consider spine injury

Tests that may be used to evaluate falls include:

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Falls References
  1. Chen XL, Liu YH, Chan DK, Shen Q, Van Nguyen H. Characteristics associated with falls among the elderly within aged care wards in a tertiary hospital: a retrospective. Chin Med J (Engl). 2010 Jul;123(13):1668-72. [20819626]
  2. Choi KW, Lee IS. [Fall risk in low-income elderly people in one urban area.]. J Korean Acad Nurs. 2010 Aug;40(4):589-98. Korean. [20820126]
  3. Decullier E, Couris CM, Beauchet O, Zamora A, Annweiler C, Dargent Molina P, Schott AM. Falls' and fallers' profiles. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010;14(7):602-8. [20818477]
  4. Nelson AL, Groer S, Palacios P, Mitchell D, Sabharwal S, Kirby RL, Gavin-Dreschnack D, Powell-Cope G. Wheelchair-related falls in veterans with spinal cord injury residing in the community: a prospective cohort study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Aug;91(8):1166-73. [20684896]
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