Decrease in winter injuries with personal winter readiness program

Local Physical Therapist Helps Keep People Moving With Competence Through Winter Months

Patchogue, NY (December 13, 2013) – Predictions for winter this year cite colder than normal temperatures and heavy snow throughout the United States, paving the way for an increase in winter-related injuries. Falls from icy conditions after winter storms are commonly treated in the ER, including wrist fractures, hip fractures and head injuries. According to the National Safety Council, falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death, resulting in more than 25,000 fatalities each year.

Gary Welch, owner of Spectrum Physical Therapy in Patchogue, and a member of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (PPS), creates Personal Winter Readiness Programs designed to enhance an individual’s physical strengths, improve balance and increase competence in movement.

“A Personal Winter Readiness Program includes a comprehensive assessment and focuses on strengthening areas of the body that are weak, and improves cardiovascular stamina during winter conditions,” said Welch. “It also identifies safe ways to navigate falls, which are often inevitable when walking surfaces are slippery. Increasing competence of movement will help decrease the injuries we see caused by winter activities as simple as walking and as complex as downhill skiing or ice skating.”

Welch offers the following tips for avoiding common winter-related injuries:

Chopping Down a Christmas Tree: Chopping trees causes impact injuries to lower, middle and upper back, in addition to shoulders. Falling trees cause further harm to people and property. Tip – Decide the direction the tree should to fall, ensuring the selected area is clear of any and all obstacles, including houses, power lines and vehicles. Employ the use of a chain saw to minimize impact on the body.

Walking Icy Sidewalks: Slip-and-falls are the most common cause of winter injuries, ranging from broken bones to concussion and even death. Tip – Bend knees and waist slightly, and walk flat-footed so center of gravity is directly above feet.

Snow Shoveling: Two of the greatest dangers associated with shoveling snow are injuries to the lower back and heart attacks. Tip – Always warm up and stretch before shoveling snow. Push snow with the shovel, don’t throw it over a shoulder. Maintain a moderate pace. Take frequent breaks.

Skiing: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are the most common injury among downhill skiers. The ligament in the knee becomes damaged when twisted during turns or in a fall. Tip – keep skis together, flex your knees and keep arms extended in front.

“A little preparedness before winter sets in can decrease the likelihood of injury dramatically,” said Welch. Welch can be reached for an individually tailored Personal Winter Readiness Program at Spectrum Physical Therapy.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit

Editor’s Note:  Gary Welch is available for discussion by phone, and commentary can be followed on Facebook at Spectrum Physical Therapy.


2013 Brookhaven Award Recipients

2013 Brookhaven Award Recipients

Gary Welch, Human Resources and Occupational Medicine Division

Gary Welch

gary welch – Gary Welch is recognized for his outstanding service to the Laboratory by establishing a top quality on-site physical therapy (PT) service with a well-equipped facility and outstanding staff. This service provides over 4,500 treatments per year to Brookhaven Lab employees recovering from occupational or personal injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Employees have overwhelmingly rated his service as excellent. They appreciate avoiding co-payments and not having to travel off-site for PT. This service has also realized the recovery of several thousand hours of productivity per year by avoiding off-site trips for PT during the workday.

Welch has developed a deep understanding of the physical challenges of work at the Lab, which has guided him in his therapy, always geared towards employees’ rapid recovery and resumption of their work duties. He has also engaged in a variety of injury prevention activities with the Lab’s Safety and Health Services, most notably the education of workers about the injury potential of their jobs and mitigation of risks.