PEI

Falls can and should be prevented: P.E.I. expert

Snow-covered ice has led to treacherous walking conditions across P.E.I. in the last week recently but one expert says falls can and should be prevented — especially for P.E.I. seniors.

'You can almost shuffle across the ice,' says researcher in fall prevention

Avoid walking on slippery surfaces if possible — especially if you are a senior, advises Rebecca Reed-Jones of UPEI. (CBC)

Snow-covered ice has led to treacherous walking conditions across P.E.I. in the last week but one expert says falls can and should be prevented — especially for P.E.I. seniors.

Rebecca Reed-Jones, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UPEI who researches fall prevention cited information from the American College of Sports Medicine indicating about one in every three older adults will fall each year, both outdoors and indoors — and those falls can result in death.

"If you can avoid it, try to," Reed-Jones said of walking outside in icy weather. 

If that's not possible, make sure your boots have a gripping tread, she told CBC News: Compass host Kerry Campbell, and put down gravel or salt on ice where you walk. 

Walk like a penguin

"Take small steps, make sure your feet are wider, [rather] than narrower — so maybe like shoulder-width apart," she suggests. "You can almost shuffle across the ice." 

Navigating unplowed city sidewalks on foot can be a risky venture. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Reed-Jones has also researched the ability of video games like Nintendo Wii Fit to promote balance. 

"Having people practice movement side to side in particular, because hip fractures can be a problem with falling," she explained. 

'Keep the bones healthy'

"Mainly what you want to make sure is that you're healthy, in terms of trying to keep strong, keep the bones healthy," she said when asked for her top tip.

"Any activity where you're practising moving around your feet, your base of support. You can also do things with your eyes closed, and yoga," she suggested. 

Remove tripping hazards such as thick rugs and electrical cords indoors, Reed-Jones encouraged.

With files from Kerry Campbell

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