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Step Safely This Winter

Margaret Vence, PT, DPT, GCS

 

 

Autumn is an exciting time of year at Lifespan Therapies with school starting, the weather changing and the holidays approaching. We love this time of year as we return to area preschools and grade schools to work with the staff and students to provide care and optimize function. Our therapists are also out in the community providing care to students in their homes and at the therapy clinic in King Ferry. The clinic is bustling with individuals working with our physical therapists to help rebuild their strength and range of motion, reduce their pain or regain their balance.

 

With the cooling temperatures and falling leaves, we are reminded that winter is right around the corner. With it, comes a heightened risk of falls and injuries from icy driveways, sidewalks and roads. According to the CDC, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and approximately 30% of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries. Research shows that a combined effect of many factors can increase one’s risk for falls. Some of the factors are environmental and may include:

  • uneven sidewalks or pathways
  • lack of or insecure banisters on the stairwell
  • loose carpets or throw rugs
  • exposed electric cords
  • inadequate lighting
  • wet surfaces or lack of nonskid surfaces

 

Other risk factors that are specific to each individual can include:

 

So what can we do to prevent or reduce our risk of falls? One option is to work with a physical therapist to evaluate your range of motion, strength, balance and risk for fall. The physical therapists at the King Ferry clinic recently hosted a Balance and Fall Assessment event in which individuals from the community came and met with a physical therapist to assess their risk for fall. The therapists discussed with participants their fall risk and recommended exercises and prevention techniques. The goal of this event and our work with people at the clinic is to help maintain independence while staying safe. For more information about physical therapy with Lifespan Therapies, please visit our website at LifespanTherapies.com and see the blog post written by one of our therapists, Mia Thomas, PT, DPT.

 

In addition to working with a physical therapist, there are some other recommendations to consider to help prevent or reduce your risk for a fall. These recommendations include:

  • Review of your medications with your physician
  • Have your vision and hearing checked
  • Develop and participate in an exercise program for strengthening and balance
  • Increase lighting within your home and on walkways around your home
  • Have a secure handrail for interior and exterior stairs
  • Use non slip mats in the shower and add grab bars
  • Do a home safety check to remove scatter rugs and cover exposed electric cords

 

Ned Stark says, “Brace yourselves. Winter is coming!” To prepare for the winter months, here are some added recommendations to prevent or reduce risk for falls:

 

 

 

 

  • Wear boots with good traction
  • Dress warmly so not to have to hurry or tense your muscles
  • Take care when getting out of your car. Take a minute to gain your balance and look down at the surface to ensure it is safe and not icy
  • Carry only items that are necessary as bulky items can alter your balance

 

We hope you find these recommendations helpful as you prepare for the winter season. Stay safe!