December marks the onset of winter, which officially begins on December 21st. Depending upon where you live, icy slippery streets, driveways and sidewalks may start much earlier than that. When you slip and fall, you could be injuring more than your pride. You could be injuring your head, neck or back.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Sometimes a slip and fall accident may seem like no big deal. Maybe you’re a little stiff. Or perhaps you have a bruised elbow. A slip and fall injury can be a very big deal however, depending upon how you fall and where you land.
- Head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are responsible for more than 35% of all traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), especially when falling backward. A TBI can range from concussions to permanent brain damage with cognitive impairment to fatal brain injuries.
- Neck and back injuries. It is possible to suffer whiplash from a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk. The sudden jerking motion of a fall can cause headaches, severe neck pain and limited range of motion. A person could also suffer from numbness and tingling in the arms and hands.
- Other injuries. Broken bones or sprained ankles often result in immediate pain, and are more likely to be treated right away. A head injury, back injury or neck injury could take more time to develop symptoms.
Seeking Medical Care for a
Slip and Fall Accident
If you or a family member has fallen, please seek medical care for back or neck injury if you experience any of the following:
- Back or neck pain Is constant or intense, especially at night or when you lie down
- Pain spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below your knee
- Pain causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Pain is accompanied by swelling or redness on your back or neck
A traumatic brain injury can
have many symptoms
Please see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- A feeling of being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unusual fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than normal
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Sensory issues such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth, changes in the ability to smell, sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
Seek immediate emergency care
if you or your family member has:
- A fever after a fall
- Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Coma or unconsciousness
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of coordination
- New bowel or bladder control problems
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
Slip and Fall Prevention
According to the National Safety Council, falls are the third leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. and the risk of falling increases with age. A slip and fall accident can lead to a wide variety of symptoms – many of them very serious.
Prevention and safety steps for
wintery conditions include:
- Adjust gutter downspouts to drive water away from your driveway or sidewalks
- Check your pavement for cracks or holes and repair any damages right away
- Ensure adequate lighting around your home and driveway
- Pay attention when walking (no cell phones, etc.)
- Remove any tripping hazards from your home’s exterior (garden hose, shovels, leaf clutter, boxes)
- Slow down when walking at night or when walking on uneven terrain
- Wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant soles
Seniors who are especially at risk for slipping, tripping, or falling can try the three-look method before stepping out into a new space
Winter should be a time for fun and frolic – not a time for hospital visits and rehabilitation exercises. Step carefully and you’ll be able to enjoy winter.
- Look Low: At floor or street level – is there anything that might give you a problem (door mats, high curbs, left objects)?
- Look Level: At about waist level - is anything in your way?
- Look Up: Toward the sky – is there enough light for you to proceed safely or do you need to turn on a light, or take another route that is more well-lit?