Prevent injuries during holiday clean up    

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Taking down all of those Christmas decorations can pose some potential health risks from falls.

Katie Kinne of Chilton County Physical Therapy recently shared tips for avoiding falls and possibly serious injuries around the holidays and any time of year with the Clanton Kiwanis Club.

Many injuries from falls are avoidable.

Kinne recounted how she tore her rotator cuff by falling down basement stairs in the dark.

“I had slippery socks on,” Kinne said.

She said the incident could have been prevented if she had put on shoes and turned on a light.

Home improvement projects have increased for some as they had more time during the pandemic. Kinne said those who jump into these projects without the proper equipment and planning often wind up needing physical therapy.

She stressed the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings and eliminating tripping hazards.

Keeping a nightlight on to keep walkways lit was also recommended. Furniture may have been moved for the holidays and will be moved again as decorations are put away, so keeping an area lit at night will prevent falls from walking into furniture that was previously in a different place.

Kinne said remembering where furniture is as one walks into a room is also important.

“Don’t forget about that coffee table being in a new spot and trip right over it,” Kinne said. “I’m saying it because I’ve done it.”

Kinne said falls can lead to unexpected medical expenses from a sprain to a broken hip.

Falls can be especially concerning for older adults. Kinne encouraged those with aging parents to look around their parent’s home for potential tripping hazards.

Grab bars in the shower are helpful for older adults.

“A lot of falls happen in the shower,” Kinne said. “You’re not near a phone typically, and they lie down, and then they are stuck there for a while.”

She said a grab bar could prevent a fall or help someone get back up.

Older adults do not always eat and drink as much as they should, Kinne said, encouraging those present to ask aging parents if they are drinking water and if they have eaten.

Tripping over a small cat or dog can also cause injury.

“I have had at least five humorous/femur fractures, hips this year from people tripping over their dogs,” Kinne said.

She encourages those with small pets to be aware of where they are, especially when cooking.

Kinne said some may experience some muscle weakness this year after not being able to follow their normal workout routine.

“You might be losing some of your sharpness of balance,” Kinne said. “This does make a big difference when you decide to get off the couch and change a lightbulb, and you are up on a 20-foot ladder.”

Changes in medication or vision can also impact balance.

Kinne said vertigo issues can be treated because the brain is trainable,  and there are things people can do to learn better balance.

At least 30 minutes of endurance/strength exercises three times a week are recommended for those wanting to strengthen muscle and increase balance, she said.

Chilton County Physical Therapy is located inside St. Vincent’s Chilton and offers outpatient physical therapy.