By Karolina A. Kozlova, PT, DPT
Learn How to Avoid Falling
New Hampshire in the winter is a sight to behold with the falling snowflakes and snow-capped mountains. And in our corner of the states, New Englanders know to be cautious when the winter weather arrives in order to prevent falling injuries. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are still happening with more than three million older adults being treated for fall injuries in the ER on a yearly basis.
The CDC predicts that “One out of every four people falls each year” and “one out of five falls causes a serious injury.” Fall death rates in the US have increased by 30% for older adults in the years 2007-2016. If rates of falls continue to rise, the CDC anticipates that by the year 2030, there will be seven fall deaths every hour.
If you’ve fallen once, the likelihood that you will fall again increases. To stay safe, the physical therapists at Family Physical Therapy recommend a few fall-prevention tips during the winter months:
Investing in Traction
- Make sure that you have a good pair of shoes on with visible heavy treads and a flat bottom. We recommend investing, if you don’t already own a pair, in shoes that will keep your feet warm and have a good tread that’s designed to help prevent falls. Also, attaching ice grippers can provide more traction.
- If you use assistive devices such as canes or walkers, we recommend buying tips that are designed to stay still on icy surfaces.
- Once inside, make sure there is no ice or snow caked on the soles of your shoes. Clean your shoes or better yet, change into indoor footwear.
Allow for Extra Time
- When you are in a hurry, your risk for falling is greater. Build in extra time when possible and walk slowly to/from your car, especially when trying to reach your destination across a parking lot.
Prep Sidewalks and Stairs
- If the forecast is predicting snow or ice, spread rock salt on the sidewalks.
- Try to avoid stairs if possible, however if avoiding them isn’t an option, use the handrail if available and be extra cautious.
- Walk slowly and deliberately, stay on clear sidewalks and pathways as much as possible, scan the path ahead and avoid any sudden head movements which could throw off your balance.
- Be careful if there is a possibility of black ice or poorly lit areas. Your vision plays a big role in your balance. If at all possible, try to stay in well-lit areas and use your vision to your advantage.
Join a Balance and Falls Prevention Program
- We offer balance and fall risk assessment screens. If you are concerned about your balance, give us a call at 603.644.8334 and we can help determine if you would benefit from specialized treatment or group classes.