Growing number of baby boomers injured by falling - Fox 2 News Headlines

Growing number of baby boomers injured by falling

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

You've probably heard about Georgians injured in falls during last week's ice storm. Experts say a growing number of Baby Boomers are getting seriously injured in falls that could have been prevented.

The Shepherd Center says falls are now the second leading cause (behind motor vehicle crashes) of spinal cord injuries in people between the ages of 46 and 60. Carl Guye shared his story with FOX 5 of how a split-second misstep changed his life.

After two and a half months of sitting in a wheelchair, Carl Guye is slowly getting back on his feet at Shepherd Center.

A "locomotor" machine harness lifts his body upright over a treadmill, as his leg muscles try to remember what it feels like to walk.

The 58 year old - is here because he suffered a spinal cord injury - in a fall he now realizes didn't have to happen. Guye says,

"It was just a dumb, dumb, dumb mistake."

Before his accident, Carl was super-active, very fit, and constantly on the go.

November 30th, he and his wife Denise were enjoying the Thanksgiving break on their farm outside Nashville, when Carl - a painting contractor - climbed up onto the roof of their barn, wearing a 40 pound leaf-blower on his back

Guye says been up on the roof a hundred times. Knew exactly where the fiberglass skylights were located, where to step, and where not to step. But this time, it was cold and he was in hurry to finish. And, he says, "When I turned around, I wasn't paying attention and I walked right off into a fiberglass skylight."

Guye fell about 20 feet to the hard dirt floor below, the leafblower still running beside him.

Unable to drag himself to barn door to call for help, he lay there for 2 hours with a broken hip, broken pelvis and broken wrist and legs that wouldn't move. He says, "When the bottom half didn't work, I knew something was really bad. I didn't know how bad."

Carl Guye didn't know it then, but falls are the second leading reason why patients his age end up at Shepherd Center with a spinal cord injury.

He suffered from a "incomplete" T-12 spinal cord injury, meaning his spinal cord was damaged but not severed.

He's hopeful he will one day be able to walk again, but it will take months and maybe years of rehabilitation. All because of one fall.

And Bridget Metzger, Director of Injury Prevention at Shepherd Center, says they've treated Baby boomers who fallen out of bed,

tripped hiking, slipped at home, or got hurt doing chores they never realized were risky. She check the records, and says patients have been hurt up on ladders, "Hanging Christmas lights. Anything. You'd be amazed. You don't have to fall very far to sustain a very serious injury."

Metzger says falls like the one Guye took are preventable. The number one way to protect yourself is to stay active, to build up your balance and coordination. She says practicing Tai Chi is a great way to prevent falls.

Shepherd Center also recommends using extreme caution when climbing on anything. And checking around the house for throw rugs or other items on the floor that might trip you up.

When it comes to cleaning gutters, and getting up on the roof, Metzger says, "My advice, of course, is avoid doing those things. Have professionals do them. If you must do them, do them with extreme caution and care."

And Carl Guye says learn from him. Anytime you climb up on a ladder, he says, "Slow down. Slow down. And just check, and double check and triple check."

Carl Guye admits he's taken a lot of risks in his life, but this one – he says – just wasn't worth it. He says, "I got by then, this one caught me."

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