by Carrie Smith, Kemptville Physiotherapy Centre
Falls are a common problem year-round, but freezing rain and uneven snow pack can make walking treacherous this time of year. According to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the average cost of a fall requiring hospitalization is approximately $30,000. It is estimated that falls and fall-related injuries cost the Canadian health care system $2.8 billion per year, and that’s not even taking into account the economic burden on the patient and the work force.
Common injuries with falls are low back and pelvic pain from landing directly on the buttocks, fractured hips and fractured wrists from awkward landings, contusions to the elbows and knees, and of course, concussions and head injuries. This year has been particularly bad for falls, and it’s not just the elderly who are at risk. 90% of falls are predictable and preventable, so a little prevention is worth a pound of cure!
In our physiotherapy clinic, we often have times where several clients with wrist fractures come in to make appointments on the same day. You can almost guarantee that there was freezing rain six weeks ago!
There are some easy ways to make the winter more enjoyable and less painful:
- Yaktrax – a rubber coil traction device which slips-on over your boots, allowing for good grip on ice and snow, inspired by the Sherpas of the Himalayas
- Nordic walking poles – these poles give you more balance, with the added benefit of providing a better workout when you walk, as they help engage more muscles
- Cane tips – if you use a cane or crutches, non-slip ice tips can be applied to allow for better grip
- Boots – make sure your winter boots have a good sole and avoid wearing Crocks out in the snow and ice!
- Don’t have too many things in your hands and hold onto your car until you are sure your feet are solidly beneath you when getting out onto slippery parking lots and driveways
- Be aware – with a snow overlay and ice underneath, the risk of falling increases dramatically. Don’t overload yourself, don’t rush, and watch where you’re going!
- See your physiotherapist! Falls often result in sprains and strains, so if you don’t end up in a cast, the sooner you can see your physiotherapist the quicker you will recover.
Concussions can also be treated by a physiotherapist.