Record-setting winter weather in the United States has led to lots of road condition advisories, but could there also be a slip and fall alert?
By analyzing various conditions – like snow, wind speed, temperature – into a ‘Slipperiness Score,’ a University of Michigan Health System study helps identify what days are the most risky for slip and fall injuries.
The study, published in February’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, focuses on Medicaid patients, all over age 65, but authors note, the risk of falling exists for anyone during harsh winter weather.
“Although the concept that slippery footing increases your risk of falling isn’t new, what we’ve been able to show is that these dangerous conditions result in more fractures in this already vulnerable population of adults,” says lead study author Aviram Giladi, M.D., a resident in the U-M Department of Surgery.
The study findings include:
- Based on a scale, ranging from 0 to 7, on a day with a score above 4 the risk of sustaining a risk fracture increased by 21 percent.
- On the most slippery days, that additional risk went up to nearly 40 percent.
- In the winter, over 1,000 additional wrist fractures occurred among adults age 65 and older compared to other seasons.
The cost of treating fall injuries tops $240 million a year.
“Understanding the risk of these injuries can help inform prevention and preparation efforts, especially on days where the weather is bound to result in more slippery conditions,” says senior study author and hand surgeon Kevin C. Chung, M.D., professor of plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery and the Charles B. G. de Nancrede Professor of Surgery. “We hope to help people prepare for risky conditions and adjust where and when they walk outdoors.”
Additional authors included Melissa J. Shauver, M.P.H.; Allison Ho, B.S.; Lin Zhong, M.D., M.P.H.; H. Myra Kim, Sc.D., all of the University of Michigan.
Source: University of Michigan Health System