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Common Injuries and Winter Fall Prevention Tips

January 12, 2016

Concordia Physical Therapist Assistant Marcy Reott contributed to today's article. At Concordia Outpatient Therapy, we have the expertise and resources to help get patients back to life.

As the weather gets colder and the snow becomes more regular, falls become more of a concern for those of us who are compromised - but also those who are perfectly healthy. It’s important that you take measures to prevent falls this season if you want to remain injury-free for the months to come.

Some people who fall are lucky to not have any major medical needs, but that isn’t often the case. Falls can cause numerous injuries that require significant rest or even surgery to heal. According to the CDC, the most common reasons for falls are: medications, poor foot wear, clustered pathways, visual problems, Vitamin D deficiency, and lower body weakness. Any combination of these reasons increases one’s risk of falling.

Top Injuries from falls:

  • Broken bones such as wrist, hip, and arm
  • Sprains and strains
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

The most common cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries is from falls, according to the CDC. One in five older adults will experience a fall.  Each year, there are 2.5 million falls treated with emergency room visits, and 700,000 of those are admitted for a hospital stay. As a nation, $34 billion is spent on injuries from falls annually.

shutterstock 46743622At Concordia Outpatient Therapy, we see tons of fall victims this time of year. Here are a few safety tips to help prevent falls.

Make sure walk ways are well lit: One major downside to winter is the lack of sunlight, especially for those who have trouble adjusting to lighting changes. Take this opportunity to upgrade lighting in your home, especially in well-traveled areas. Don’t forget the night lights too!

Wear appropriate footwear for the weather: How many times have you just kept your slippers on to take the dog out or grab the mail? Not a good idea when snow and ice are involved! Invest in some sturdy footwear with good traction and anti-slip soles – even for the short jaunts outside.

Take time to clear pathways from snow and ice: The key word here is “time.” Do not attempt to break the world speed record for shoveling a walkway – going too fast is a sure-fire way to injure yourself. Practice proper lifting mechanics went removing snow, and if you are not in top physical form, don’t put too much physical strain on yourself to shovel snow, as that can be a safety concern in itself.

If you need an assistive device (crutches, cane, walker, rollator, etc), use it: This may seem like common sense, but too often, people experience difficulty using their assistive devices in the snow, so they try to go without them. If you use one of these devices, ask your physical therapist for tips specific to the problem you are encountering.

If you or a loved one experiences a fall this season or any time, consider Concordia Outpatient Therapy Services. If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, we can help with your strengthening, balance, and recovery needs. You can contact us at 724-352-4535 or visit www.concordiacabot.org and learn more about Outpatient Physical Therapy. 

For many seniors, winter maintenance and concerns are some of the main reasons for considering a move to a worry-free retirement apartment or senior care community. Concordia always offers free, personalized tours at all of our nonprofit senior care locations for individuals wishing to learn more. Visit our Locations map to find a community near you, message us through our Contact Form or call our administrative headquarters at 1-888-352-1571. Perhaps all you need is a helping hand at home? Visit Concordia Private Care to see what we can do for you or your loved one. You can also find more tips at Elder Pages Pittsburgh.

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