Fall prevention is not simply an issue for seniors. With winter storms in Minnesota comes the need for awareness about the seriousness of a fall on the ice whether walking or shoveling snow. When our sidewalks and footpaths are covered in ice, anyone can slip and hit their head resulting in a brain injury.
- Keep your walkways covered in a mixture of sand and salt and shoveled so packed snow doesn't accumulate
- Wear shoes and boots with sturdy soles and good treads when walking outside
- Dress warmly --- being cold can cause shivering and tension which can throw off balance
- Use both feet getting out of a vehicle to help with balance
- After a recent snow and ice storm, Hennepin County Medical Center had a 20% increase of emergency rooms visits from falls
Assume that all sidewalks are icy. Some ice is hard to spot and extra caution can keep you from taking a nasty spill. Don't go through an area that hasn't been shoveled or has bad lighting.
A brain injury from a fall on the ice can be preventable if Minnesotans take necessary precautions when walking shoveling.
Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures or brain trauma. These injuries can make it hard to get around and limit independent living. They also can increase the risk of early death.
Stats from the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance and the Minnesota Department of Health from 2008-2009:
- Falls are the leading cause of brain injury in Minnesota and account for 38% of all brain injuries annually
- Falls account for almost half the hospitalized injuries and are the leading cause of injuries treated in emergency departments
- Minnesota has one of the highest mortality rates from falls in the Unites States (MDH)
- The highest months for falls in Minnesota is December through March when falls are from 1,500 to 2,000 cases per month higher (almost double the monthly rates during the rest of the year)
- While falls from Spring through November are borne mostly in the elderly, falls during the winter months are in younger ages from 25-59 years old.
For more information on falls and prevention, contact the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance at 612-378-2742 or 800-669-6442.