It’s not just physical

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in Blog

A primer on why we fall – and why everybody is at risk Editor’s note: Last week, we covered the importance of fully understanding the mechanism of injury and the resulting bodily injury that happens during a fall. Today, we cover why people fall and how it’s not just because of missteps or slippery surfaces.  This is the second installment of three installments. It’s easy to understand why construction workers or retail workers, who are working in unsafe environments or are constantly on their feet, are more likely to fall than other workers. Seniors also are at risk because they may have lower body weakness; vision problems; foot pain; or use medicines that could make them less sure-footed. But science – and experience – shows us that just about anybody can be prone to a fall for all kinds of reasons – wet flooring, uneven sidewalks or improper footwear. For most of us, walking is something we do without much thought. In reality, the simple step of putting one foot in front of the other requires a complex partnership between our muscles and our central nervous system. Regarding slips and falls, a 2013 report in the Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences shows that there are two important phases to consider: Soon after the heel meets the ground and when the front part of the shoe or foot is touching the ground. And there are plenty of factors that impact our stability. The farther apart our feet are as we stand, for instance, the more stability we have. And our center of gravity as compared to that base of support or, foot spread, also is critical. An article on HumanKinetics.com summed it up this way: “High stability (low mobility) is characterized by a large base of support, a low center of gravity, a centralized center of gravity projection within the base of support, a large body mass, and high friction at the ground interface. Low stability (high mobility), in contrast, occurs with a small base of support, a high center of gravity, a center of gravity projection near the edge of the base of support, a small body mass, and low friction.” How our brains are involved Our brains, of course, also play a role in the way we walk and assess slippery or tricky walking surfaces. When we’re walking, we’ll look to see if the path ahead of us is safe. If it is, we’ll continue that evaluation as we walk forward – shifting our weight or changing our gait if the path turns out to be slippery or uneven. “It is clear that ‘expectancy’ is required to walk – that is, during walking, we expect the ground to be...

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Slips, Falls, Tumbles

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Blog

Why there is always more to the story when assessing fall-related claims, cases Editor’s note: This is the first in the three-part series on evaluating fall-related claims and cases. A misstep. A wobble. And, then, bam. In a millisecond, a trip, slip or fall can lead to life-changing injuries, along with bulging medical files, an insurance claim and, often, a court case. Indeed, the business behind fall-related insurance claims and court cases is big. At home, at businesses and at work, falls cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year, leading to billions of dollars in workers’ compensation costs and medical claims. Here at MKC Medical Management, attorneys and insurance adjustors regularly hire us to review and advise on cases that involve a fall. In fact, our practice has reviewed hundreds of claims involving various kinds of falls during the past 20-plus years. We aren’t biomechanical engineers. But, as legal nurse consultants and clinicians, we have a fundamental understanding of fall mechanics. Claim strategies are often based on understanding the mechanism of injury and the resulting bodily injury. Without that expertise, you risk missing out on critical details of a case and have less control over its final outcome. Always more to the story Environmental hazards – icy sidewalks, uneven curbs, bumpy pathways – typically drive personal injury and property casualty claims. But, for insurance adjusters and attorneys, when it comes to determining what caused a fall injury, there’s always more to the story than the weather report and emergency department records. The challenge when evaluating most falls is determining the validity of the allegation: Was it really the rain-soaked tiles that caused the fall or could there be another reason – the claimant’s high heels or a chronic illness that makes the person unsteady on their feet. Not all falls are the same. In fact, each type of fall – from a trip to a slip to a crumple – has its own distinct thumbprint. To completely evaluate a fall claim, a thorough understanding of the biomechanics of the fall, a complete story about what happened and a full assessment of what’s inside those complex medical files is vital. Who’s at risk? Slips, trips and falls make up 15 percent of all accidental deaths, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They also are a leading cause of fatalities – second only to motor vehicles. On the job, injuries from falls produce a major strain for employers. In 2014, more than 260,000 private industry and state and local government workers missed one or more days of work because of a fall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That year, almost 800 workers died....

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