ER doctor says visits are up because of ice storm

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The ice is causing accidents on the roads and the sidewalks. Doctors say emergency rooms across the area are filling up with people who suffered slips and falls.

CBS 58’s Bill Walsh spoke with Dr. Jeff Pothof, emergency department physician at UW Health, who says these slips and falls are not to be taken lightly.

"We’re seeing our EDs (emergency departments) take on a fair number of patients already that are suffering from injuries related to slips and falls," he said. "A really common one that people might not realize is when you start to feel that sensation of falling, you’re really likely to extend your arm to try to catch yourself, and you promptly break the two bones in your wrist, the ulna and the radius."

When asked if senior citizens are especially vulnerable to this, and if they should consider staying inside today, Pothof said, "their bones typically aren’t as strong, especially if you carry a diagnosis of osteoporosis. If you slip and fall and extend your hand, there’s a really good chance that’s going to end up with a fracture. Secondarily, a lot of the elderly in our communities are on blood thinners for various reasons. When they fall and hit their head, the likelihood of a head bleed, which is very dangerous, goes up significantly."

Dr. Pothof says if people must go outside today, there are traction products to help you stay safe.

"Yak Trax is a common brand, often times you’ll find these in your local sporting good store in the ice fishing section. Ice fishermen are wearing these all the time because they are walking on glare ice. Some of them are cheap, just a few bucks. They might not be the most fashionable, but they will keep you from falling," he said.

Doctors actually have a name for the most common fall, they call it a FOOSH injury.

That’s an acronym for “fall on outstretched hand." Dr. Pothof says a common outcome from a FOOSH is eight weeks with a cast on your broken wrist.

A spokesperson for UW Health says that as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, approximately 40 people have come to the emergency department at University Hospital for injuries related to the ice storm.

Common injuries include trauma from falls, arm and leg injuries and cuts.

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