COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Oct. 25, 2012

Lyle Karasiuk
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Walking in a winter wonderland

As those words are being hummed, it’s appropriate to talk about falls as we head into winter.

The recent freezing, snow and ice will challenge all of us to stay upright. Falls account a large percentage of injuries to people of all ages. In some folks such as a senior a fall can be life changing. It might mean the loss of one’s independence; a long term stay in hospital or worse a debilitating injury that forces one to become bed ridden. Not a happy outcome!

Many falls can be prevented.

This time of year if you must venture outside then take a few simple precautions. One where good footwear. Two ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Three watch wear you are going. Four if have a walking assist like a cane or walker, please use them.

Often when we fall the human instinct to want brace ourselves. Landing on an outstretched arm or falling backwards possibly striking our head can lead to serious injury. Falls often are embarrassing. I was put in that position just this week when I slipped.

Fortunately a bruise and minor scrape but it could have been worse. Sometimes a well-meaning bystander will come to our aid and want to get us up off the ground. Before you even try to get up a quick “injury inventory” is needed.

So you are on your way shopping and bang down you go. Once you realize what’s happened and before you try to get up check out a few simple body parts. If it hurts in your head, neck or back DO NOT MOVE. Do not try to move someone but call for help from paramedics immediately. Do whatever is needed to keep the person safe, warm and dry till paramedics arrive. If the head, neck or back are fine then move slowly and see if anything hurts.

Do your hands, fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, hips, ankles and toes all move with pain? If there is pain then one needs to figure out did I break something or is it bruised. When in doubt call for the paramedics as sometimes the visit to the emergency room for X-rays is needed. Far too often we are in a rush or well-meaning bystanders move us when injuries like a hip fracture are present. Such injuries can be made worse and cause considerable pain if one moves.

If the only thing injured is one’s pride you like me are lucky folks. In the home loose carpets, wet floors, clutter like newspapers or poor lighting can be factors causing falls. Take time to inventory your home by playing house detective to be sure it’s safe.

Tape on carpets, better lighting, hand rails in the tub/shower can go a long way to preventing falls. For those senior’s living alone one might also consider a panic button that when pushed summons help because of your fall. Walk with care this winter!

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