Innovative Functional Clothing to Reduce Fall-related Head Injuries

As I write to you this month,  it is such joy to celebrate the Holiday Season with you!  I imagine during the now winter months that some of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving Holidays with family and friends.   I do hope so!

In November, I  imagined that some of you may have experienced rehabilitation services over the summer,  to engage in functional and strengthening exercise programs to increase your independent activities of daily living.

This month,  I am wondering if you have enjoyed a conversation with your primary providers about protecting yourselves from injury when you fall.   While we cannot prevent all falls, we can protect ourselves from injuries when we fall. I do hope that  you have had this conversation about protecting you from fall-related injuries with you.  And if not,  maybe after you read my note to you,  you will.   I know it is a difficult conversation.

Your Harmony Team wants to protect you from both falls and injuries when you do fall.    We knew that we cannot prevent all falls,  but the severity of injury can be reduced.  This month,  I am changing my  message focus from  reducing fall risk factors  to protecting you from fall-related injuries.

Head Injuries – A Serious Fall-related Injury

First,  let me highlight why I am writing to you about fall-related head injuries.   You know that a fall can happen to anyone of any age and can cause serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury (TBI).   Although many falls are preventable, you  should know that fall-related TBI deaths are increasing in many states as well as nationally (Brown, et al., 2019).  Falls cause serious injuries, including TBI. Unintentional falls represent the second leading cause of TBI-related death (Daugherty, et al., 2019).  Peterson, et al., (2020), reported that “the national age-adjusted rate of fall-related TBI deaths increased by 17% from 2008 to 2017; rates increased significantly in 29 states and among nearly all groups, most notably persons living in noncore nonmetropolitan counties and those aged ≥75 years”(p. 225).

The CDC updated statistics about the burden of fall-related TBI in 2019,  citing that TBI  is a major cause of death and disability.

  • Falls lead to nearly half of the TBI-related hospitalizations.
  • About 61,000 TBI-related deaths occurred in US in 2019, so that is  about 166 TBI-related deaths every day.   
  • Older adults are more likely to be hospitalized and die from TBI compared to all other age groups
  • TBI may be missed or misdiagnosed in older adults because symptoms of TBI overlap with other medical conditions that are common in older adults, such as dementia

Please see this CDC site for more information.

CDC,  Traumatic brain injury,   Get the facts  May 12, 2021; here

Strategies to Prevent TBI from Falls

The core strategies to prevent TBIs from falls are:

  • Don’t fall, which you and I know is not going to happen!!   We all fall.  Some people more often than others,  but we can protect ourselves when we fall.
  • Don’t read your phone while you are walking. Falls that occur while walking and reading/texting have become a new type of fall:  distracted walking.
  • Try to break your fall during descent, which requires rapid reflexive posturing to reach out while you are falling to break your fall.   Older adults may have delayed reflexive posturing.
  • Wear a Helmet! A properly fitted helmet – bicycle helmet can reduce risk of TBI by 88%  (SSM Health,  available here)

Innovative Helmet – RibCap

Helmet use has been advocated for decades  for reducing head trauma for lots of sports:  batters,   catchers, cyclists,  skiers,  football, hockey, and more.   Helmets absorb trauma  during impact.  Yet,  helmet use to protect people from falling while simply walking has been met with resistance.   Your Harmony Team is dedicated  to protecting you from experiencing a head injury when you fall.

You have heard before about helmet use to  protect your head if you fall – especially  from a bike.  In hospitals and post-acute care settings,  medical helmets are rarely used.  Medical  helmets, which  reduce the trauma impact to the head when a patient falls,  are not new;  rather, they are met with resistance by providers and patients.  People feel stigmatized when wearing a helmet.  Current helmets are bulky and uncomfortable, resulting in low adherence.  So, providers are reluctant to order them,  knowing patients will not wear them.   However,  an alternative is now available.

RibCap

I am delighted to introduce you to innovative functional clothing to protect your head when you fall – RibCap.  

You may ask:  why are medical helmets not used widely?  I know from my practice that older adults do not like wearing them because they are bulky,  have a lingering stigma,  and lack style.  RibCap,  functional protective headgear,  is essentially a cap that you  place on  your head,  fasten the chin strap as needed.  Then,  you are able to move around and maintain your gait and balance.  RibCap is an innovative helmet that does not look like a helmet, and combines style and function,   creating a new category of adaptive fashion clothing.  The product comes in 3 medical helmet designs:  a  beanie, baseball cap, or cap,  all of which are popular headwear.

The RibCap beanie, which has difference versions.  This left picture is the Lenny Beanie medical helmet.   Next is the ball cap and  then bucket cap or the Billie medical helmet.  They come in a variety of colors.

                   

Please see more information at:  https://ribcap.com/head-protection/head-lifestage/senior-adult-medical-helmet/

You know that helmets reduce head injury,  skull fractures,  impact injury to the head and brain.    But, protection requires action – that means – the act of wearing the helmet.   I imagine and hope that when you ride your bicycle,  you wear  your helmet!  Helmet safety has been a public safety intervention in states,  cities, and towns for decades!    But, primarily focused on bicycle safety for all age groups.  Bicycle helmets must fit properly,   be well-maintained,   worn consistently and correctly.  The same criteria applies to RibCap.

RibCap closes the gap between safety and style,  creating a new category of adaptive  fashion to provide falls and TBI.   This protective clothing has referred to as a fashionable soft shell he lent designed to protect the head without compromising style and individuality.

If you are interested,   you can visit this website:  https://ribcap.com/head-protection/head-style/cap-medical-helmet/

All you have to do is measure the circumference of around your forehead,  then  select the style and color.  I have learned about older adults who are ordering several colors: navy, black, red and more.

Persons with these disorders are benefitting from this protective clothing on their heads when they fall and are wearing RibCaps:

  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson Symptoms or Disease
  • Autism
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Head Injury

RibCap is an amazing protective technology that revolutionizes how to approach head injury prevention.   I am hopeful that you find this information helpful to you and maybe members of your family and your friends.

Your Harmony Team and Healthcare Providers are dedicated to your health, wellness, function and safety,  and reducing your risk of serious injury due to falls.

Stay strong,  active,  safe,  and connected with your healthcare team.

Your Harmony Team is here to help you!

Thank you for reading this message and in advance for sharing with others.

Wishing you a very special Holiday Season,

Pat Quigley

11/14/21

References:

Daugherty J, Waltzman D, Sarmiento K, Xu L. Traumatic brain injury-related deaths by race/ethnicity, sex, intent, and mechanism of injury—United States, 2000–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:1050–6.

Timsina LR, Willetts JL, Brennan MJ, et al. Circumstances of fall-related injuries by age and gender among community-dwelling adults in the United States. PLoS One 2017;12:e0176561.

Brown JB, Kheng M, Carney NA, Rubiano AM, Puyana JC. Geographical disparity and traumatic brain injury in America: rural areas suffer poorer outcomes. J Neurosci Rural Pract, 2019;10:10–5

Peterson, A.B., & Kegler, S.R. (2020).   Deaths from fall-related traumatic brain injury. United States 2008-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(9): 225-230.  Available:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6909a2.htm?s_cid=mm6909a2_w

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