BACK INJURIES, BUCKETS AND BRUFEN
As the water crisis in the Western Cape shows little sign of ending, despite better than expected rainfall figures in May 2018, an unexpected consequence which has still to be quantified, has emerged at Family practitioner, Physio , and Pharmacy level as well as at the sellers of plastic buckets!
Little old ladies, portly middle aged gents, and overloaded Blue collar workers lugging 10 to 20KG bottles of water, to fill or flush domestic loos or into offices and flats to be placed atop water coolers, have all begun to report an unexpected but logical increase in:
- Elbow and
- Knee injuries
Clinics are under pressure to provide medication, IOD reports are starting to peak, and downtime at work will be significant, as the drought persists and more of these water induced injuries take their toll.
Furthermore, slipping and falling injuries resulting in fractures, sprains and sometimes closed or open head injuries have become more common place, as the falls often happen in bathrooms or toilets , where floors are wet and slippery and spaces are confined and awkward. Even more dangerous is the elderly living alone, and falling in a bathroom when there is no one within earshot to assist.
In an effort to comply with the 50L per person per day rule, the elderly are taking risks, as they do not want to have to face the massive hikes in water tariffs which they will not be able to afford. The spectre of them having to que for water and carry 20 litre containers to and from motor cars, or communal busses, and then walk up stairs to their apartments haunts them to save every drop where they can.
It seems that few have been given any ergonomic instruction on how to lift and how to bend and protect their limbs from injury.
As PHC practitioners is imperative that we educate our patients in advance of them falling prey to these injuries, and with this in mind the team at CPC/Qualicare have compiled a series of 12 points for your attention, as well as for you to bring to the attention of your patients:
- Only fill buckets half full, and under no circumstances attempt to carry a full bucket of water to flush the loo or empty the basins
- Most buckets are have a 10 L capacity, in other words a filled weight of 10 kg therefore only carry 5 L at a time
- Hold the bucket close to your body and not on an outstretched arm
- Only lift a heavy bucket by first bending the knees, keeping the feet firmly planted on the floor with the legs apart
- Never swing around quickly, nor lean toward the loo pan, but rather stand up very straight
- Take a deep breath as you lift, and tighten your tummy, pelvic and gluteal muscles
- Make sure that the floor of the bathroom or loo is dry or stand on a bathmat
- Loos are often in confined spaces , so avoid abnormal postures and twisting to pour the water into the loo
- Never carry a full or half bucket of water up or down stairs
- If you gather water into a plastic bath when you shower, always keep one foot on the tiles floor, lest the bath slip and you fall and injure yourself in the shower
- Tell someone that you are using the shower, if there is someone in your apartment, so that they can keep an ear open for a distress call
- Arrange a twice a day call in by your emergency service or close family member
REMEMBER IT IS NOT ONLY THE ELDERLY, BUT ALSO THE UNFIT, THE POORLY COORDINATED AND EVEN YOU, THE DOCTOR OR YOUR STAFF, WHO ARE AT RISK.
We nevertheless hope that the rains continue, in the meanwhile save every drop of water.
Tony Behrman and the QC Team