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Stay standing this winter!

Date: January 10, 2024 Category: Orthopedic news

Stay Standing: What’s your risk of falling, and what can you do to prevent it from happening?

With snow and ice in WNY’s future, falling down is an increased concern in the fall and winter. And although the weather makes falls prevention timely, many other factors can contribute to falling, with a lot of data that suggests many falls happen right inside a person’s home. So what’s your risk, and how what steps can you take to reduce your risk of getting hurt? In this article, we’ll get to what you can do, but first, here’s what professionals look for.

According to Excelsior Orthopaedics’ Peter McCabe, MS, ATC, PES, experts first assess a person’s standing position and then their balance.

“Overall, where is their body position? When a person is standing, are their hips moving? Are their ankles moving? Arms, while usually moving in a protective balance, can throw someone off who has poor balance,” suggests McCabe, Safety Coordinator at Excelsior.

Physicians or other providers such as physical therapists or athletic trainers will also look at a person’s clinical history, including age, any previous injuries, comorbidities, and how active he or she is.

If you want to improve your balance, McCabe says work on your proprioception, which, simply put, is one’s awareness of their body, space, movement, and effort.

“Strengthening your body helps, too. In our physical and occupational therapy clinics, all approaches are used to treat people comprehensively,” says McCabe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 75% of falls happen in the home or close by, with falls happening most frequently in the following rooms:

  • Living Room – 31%
  • Bedroom – 30%
  • Kitchen – 18%
  • Bathroom – 12%
  • Hallways  – 9%

First and foremost, at home, clean up clutter. “General organization is important,” McCabe reminds us. Make sure rugs are slip resistant and lie flat: The CDC reports that more than 5,000 people visit the emergency room each year after tripping and falling on throw rugs or loose carpets.

If you know you are somebody who is unsteady on your feet, make sure you’re close to something you can grab or lean on when getting up and walking, like being within reach of the car, your bed, or a rail.

When out and about, don’t disregard the impact your shoes can have on your safety. Arch support is important to the type of she you wear.

“Sandals aren’t giving you support up the midfoot and ankle,” McCabe says. “So if you’re going out to be active on the trail, on the playground, a brisk walk, you want to wear good fitting sneakers.”

Finally, if you’re falling, and it’s inevitable, try to protect your head if you can influence how you land. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (CDC).

“Your arms are going to be helpful, but it helps to turn in and fall more on your side as a way to protect your head. That could lead to different injuries such as a sprain or broken clavicle, but those are preferable to a severe head injury,” McCabe says.

If a fall does occur, Excelsior Express Urgent Care can help. Skip the ER and schedule your appointment at excelsiorortho.com or call (716) 250-9999 to have Excelsior Orthopaedics’ experts diagnose and treat your break, strain, or fracture all in one visit.

A version of this article first appeared in Buffalo Healthy Living.

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