Slips and Falls on Icy Surfaces
When it comes to trauma calls for emergency rooms, certain times of the year are busier than others for the different specialists. “For the orthopedic surgeon,” says Barbara Bergin, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon in Austin, Texas, “it’s the first day of a freeze. No one is prepared.” Slips and falls are already quite common, particularly in the elderly -- and their likelihood increases on slippery surfaces such as slush and ice, says spine surgeon Andrew M. Cash, M.D., a Las Vegas-based spinal surgeon. “Slip-and-fall injuries account for a myriad of sprains and strains to the musculoskeletal system, especially the neck and back,” he says. When snow and ice are on the ground, lower your risk of slipping with a few precautions. Take things slowly, always allow yourself extra time to get where you’re going and wear appropriate footwear, Dr. Bergin says. Avoid shoes with heels or smooth soles. As an alternative, choose shoes or boots with nonslip, grooved soles for traction. Take short steps or shuffle for stability. When traveling by vehicle, be especially careful when entering or exiting and use the vehicle for support when you get out. Should you find yourself falling, try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists or spine, and instead try to fall on a fleshy part of your body like your side. You’ll also be better off if you can avoid tensing up, going limp to reduce the risk of worsening the injury.
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