Winter Means Slippery Sidewalks and Icy Stairs

Winter’s here and so is the snow and ice that make sidewalks slippery. About 1 million people slip and fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and approximately 20,000 of them die due to fall-related injuries.

photo: Loyola University Health System
photo: Loyola University Health System

In addition, falls are responsible for approximately 15 percent of job-site accidents, adding up to almost 15 percent of all workers’ compensation costs.

The odds of falling increase as we age, but we can take measures to avoid them.

“Balance deteriorates as we get older due to the weakening of muscles and change in sensory perception, especially in the ear structure,” says Mike Ross, author of “The Balance Manual” and exercise physiologist at Gottlieb Center for Fitness, part of Loyola University Health System.

Equilibrium, or balance, is largely determined by the inner ear and the brain.

“As we age, our eardrums often thicken and the bones of the middle ear and other structures are affected. It often becomes increasingly difficult to maintain balance,” he said.

“Aging also breaks down cells in the nervous system, which can often result in a delay in reflexes that can lead to susceptibility to injury,” he said.

Source: Loyola University Health System