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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Right Shoes for the Season: Preventing Winter Falls for Seniors

Newswise, December 1, 2015 Many parts of Canada saw their first snow fall and with it comes an increased risk of falls on snow and ice. The issue is most serious for those over the age of 65, 20 to 30 per cent of whom experience a fall each year according to a report by the Government of Canada.

Researchers at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) are examining how these falls can be prevented in people’s homes, and out in the community while also encouraging safe activity.

“Falls are an underappreciated, preventable health risk,” explains Tilak Dutta, scientist at Toronto Rehab. “The fear of falling itself can have devastating effects on health. Keeping active is important to maintain health yet most older adults become sedentary in the winter.”

To raise awareness about falls and measures people can take to prevent falls in their homes and in the community, Dutta and his team are hosting a number of events and talks for the public for in November.

Events include testing winter boots in a simulator called WinterLab. Members of the public are invited to walk up and down the icy slopes of WinterLab while in a safety harness. The lab is tilted to progressively greater inclines from zero to 22 degrees until participants start to slip.
“Our testing has shown that it isn’t possible to determine performance by simply looking at your footwear. Some footwear that looks sophisticated will only climb a two-degree slope covered in wet ice while others maintain their grip even at a 15 or 20-degree angle.”

Dutta and his team plan to publish a website soon with the results of their tests so the public will have the information they need to buy the best winter footwear.

The team also has an ongoing series of short talks each day at 12:30 p.m. which are streamed live on YouTube and archived for viewing later. Topics range from ways of making stairs and bathroom safer to suggestions on exercises for improving balance.

“Falls prevention is so far-reaching,” Dutta explains. “We will all either become at risk of falling at some point in our lives, or care for someone who is at risk.”
For more information on the activities and talks, please see

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