Healthbeat: How to lower your risk of serious injury during a fall

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It is that time of year when we start to see more slips and falls because of wintry weather.

While many younger people may avoid a serious injury during a fall, the same cannot be said for older individuals. Falling becomes far more frequent during the winter season. It is why a local health system is urging middle aged and older people to take steps now to avoid a serious physical setback.

“Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. So it is really an important health issue,” said Theresa Craig, Exercise Physiologist with Allied Services.

To help avoid falls and the injuries that come with them, Craig demonstrated, with a co-worker, an exercise as simple as getting up and down from a chair.

“Maybe they have gained weight, so the muscles cannot work hard enough to have them stand up out of the chair on their own, so I encourage people to start with hanging onto the sides of their chairs and using their arms,” Craig said.

If you are up to it, you graduate to another exercise that requires using your lower body to lift yourself from the chair.

“That exercise particularly strengthens the muscles in your legs and doing you know 10 of those a day, maybe 20 of those a day, will help you to maintain the strength in your muscles,” said Craig.

Another exercise requires standing and balancing by hanging onto something sturdy then marching.

“It uses large muscle groups and it works your heart and lungs as well,” Craig said.

Improving balance and strength, and agility and mobility may help keep you on your feet and out of a hospital emergency room.

“And I think what happens mostly with the falls, Mark, is that it makes them not want to walk and it makes them not want to move so it makes their mobility even decrease more,” said Leslie Ritter, Physical Therapist with Allied Services.

Falls and slips could also happen indoors on floors made wet from someone’s snow-tracked shoes or perhaps some trip items as simple as a throw rug.

Allied Services and Centers for Disease Control offer home recreation idea and fall prevention tips.

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