Fall Prevention: Part 5









Watch your step! Your response to this might be, “duh.” But I would then reply that I see a huge number of patients who simply trip on things; stuff lying around on the floor, curbs, parking lot barriers and speed bumps, uneven places on the sidewalk. Make it your habit to scan your surroundings, and to both look up and down as you walk to your destination. Ofttimes we look to where we are going and make a beeline there, forgetting about the obstacles between us and our destination.

Just say “NO” to ladders when at all possible. I really do think there’s a certain point at which you should probably just stay off ladders. Let someone else do the job. If you’re unsure, always ask someone else to stand by the bottom of the ladder, just in case. Use sturdy ladders with a handle on top so you have something to hold on to when you’re climbing and when you get to the top. Use ladders with a shelf on top, on which to put your supplies before climbing up. Don’t carry them up there and then put them on the shelf. You can’t begin to know how many terrible accidents I see as a result of someone putting those extension ladders into soft dirt on the side of their house. As they ascend, the ladder starts to lean and you’ve got nowhere to go but down. The severity of your injury is in the hands of God at that point, and based on my professional experience, I’m pretty sure there is often something more important going on in the world. It’s a slow motion movie on the way down as you reach helplessly for sunbeams. If you need to use an extension ladder, you MUST :

1)      have someone below standing guard,

2)      have health insurance, and last but not least…

3)      have your power of attorney and will updated.

‘Nuf said.

Don’t text and walk. Been there. Done that. And if I hadn’t been doing my single leg standing exercises, I really think I would have ended up doing a face-plant on the ground after I tripped on the fluorescent yellow, cross-hatched painted speed bump. As it was, I just ended up a little embarrassed. That was my wake up call. No more texting and walking.

Shoes. High heels, flip flops, and mules have all contributed to my kids’ education fund in their own special way. How’s that for putting something in perspective? If y’all would quit wearing these categories of shoes, I would have to work overtime to pay for this luxury. I think the high heels are obvious. Flip flops speak for themselves. Flip. Flop. Sometimes these cheap, easy on and off shoes actually suck down to a wet floor! They start to slide off your foot. But not quite. And you fall down. You also have to hold them on with your toes, which just puts your foot at a disadvantage when they flip and flop. Mules might not be so obvious, but again, you have to hold them on with your toes, and so again, your foot is already at a disadvantage when you start to go downl. Secondly, your heel slips out of them, so with uncanny, but predictable regularity they cause people to sprain their ankles.

And I’m sure I don’t even need to mention the effect this bizarre trend of wearing these 6 inch platform high heels has had on the orthopedic industry. But I’m going to anyway, even though I’m sure it will have no effect on those who wish to wear them. A lethal combination, but one which I have seen many times: 6 inch platforms on a drunk girl who is texting while walking to her car, which is parked in some back alley off Austin’s 6th St. Parents! Teach your children. They can, and they most likely will, get drunk. They can (hopefully just the girls) and they will wear six inch heels. They can and they will text while walking. They can and they will park their cars in dark alleys. But please…just not all at once!

Drugs and alcohol by themselves and in conjunction with all of the above…you-fall-down-go-boom.

And last but not least…Slow down. Give yourself time to get somewhere. We’re a society of people going everywhere at a fevered pitch. Just slow down and pay attention.

There’s still more! Can you tell I think fall prevention is important?


4 Responses to Fall Prevention: Part 5

  1. Ruth Ann Mayer September 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Hi Dr. Bergin,

    Any new news for ankles with arthritis? I’m still taking joint supplements, wearing orthotics, supportive shoes and braces when necessary. Any chance stem cell replacement therapy could work for worn out ankle joints?

    Ruth Ann

    • Barbara September 21, 2012 at 3:20 am #

      Ankles are tough…not in the literal sense, but in the sense of how to deal with arthritic ankles. There’s no great answer for arthritis, especially in relatively young, active adults. Total ankle replacements just aren’t as durable as their counterparts for the knee and hip. It’s mainly about limiting activities, bracing or creative shoewear and taking anti-inflammatories. If there’s an ounce of weight to be lost, then lose it. I find that these general principles work for the most part. People rarely go on to need ankle surgery. But that’s probably because we discourage it. Sorry.

  2. Ms. P October 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Dr. Bergin,

    This may sound crazy, but I am most comfortable wearing a four inch heel, with or without a platform. My feet are so flat that a flat shoe actually hurts to wear. I need to schedule an appointment to see you, soon.

    Ms. P

    • Barbara November 13, 2012 at 2:31 am #

      Sorry I didn’t reply to your comment a little sooner. I’m having a little difficulty finding the comments when they are posted.

      Yikes! Four inch heels. I would have to categorically say they are bad for your feet. But then I would have to say that it’s easy for me to say, now that I’m almost 60 and I’ve had my opportunity to wear all the high heels I wanted to wear. Of course my feet are now paying for it…and yours will too. The fact that your feet feel better in high heels over flats is probably because they are just conditioned to wearing them. Your feet can get conditioned to wearing high heels just like your legs and lungs can get conditioned to running. That doesn’t mean getting conditioned for something is good for you in all circumstances. Just means your body can take a lot of abuse! Maybe you could use some deconditioning or reconditioning! Arch supports?

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