Winter Safety Tips

snow shoveler 2

During the winter, we see an uptick in weather related cases, like slips and falls, strained muscles and exposure to the elements. To help you and your family stay safe and make the most out of this winter, we’ve put together a few tips.

Slips & Falls

One of the most common causes of injury is slipping on a slick surface and falling. It’s important to be careful when walking outside during the winter months. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes and winter gear if you’ll be outside. You should also assume that all areas where you will be walking have not been properly treated for snow and ice, and take precautions.

You should treat all potential problem areas around your home before bad weather hits. This means salting your sidewalk or front steps, and restocking on snow removal essentials ahead of time.

With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s hard to remember to slow down, but to prevent slips and falls, it’s important to take your time and carry less in your hands.

Snow Removal

Nebraska is known for its snowy winters, so make sure you’re prepared. Whether you have a small sidewalk or a long driveway, it’s good to keep these tips in mind when you’re removing snow from your property.

Give yourself plenty of time to shovel or blow the snow off, and don’t rush through the job. Moving too quickly could lead to back pain, strained muscles or other injuries. To prevent soreness, try loosening up your muscles before shoveling by stretching your arms, legs, back and shoulders.

Lift with your knees, not your back. Try to avoid moving from the spine, and instead let your legs and arms do the heavy lifting. It may also help to push the snow into a pile, rather than throwing it off to the side.

Take breaks and stay hydrated. It may feel cold outside, but the hard work of snow removal can be exhausting. Don’t push yourself too hard, and be sure to replenish fluids. It may help to keep up with the storm instead of waiting until the snow has stopped falling.

Snow Blower Safety

Using a snow blower can make your snow removal process a lot easier. However, they can also be a dangerous tool. In 2012 alone, more than 3,300 emergency room visits for snow blower related injuries were reported. Like any piece of machinery, it’s important to be mindful of the potential hazards when working with a snow blower.

You shouldn’t wear loose fitting clothing when operating a snow blower. Pants, jackets and scarves could easily become tangled in the moving parts. Be sure to also remove door mats, newspapers and other objects that may be in the path, to avoid causing a clog and damaging the machine.

Don’t ever put your hands or feet inside a snow blower, even if the machine is turned off. Severe injuries including lacerations, fractures and even amputations can occur from trying to clear a clog yourself.  Use a clearing tool to unclog the snow blower, and be sure to turn the machine off before attempting to clear it.

Use the correct extension cords if you have an electric snow blower. An outdoor extension cord should be connected to a grounded outlet, and the cord should be kept away from the augur while in use.

Don’t start your gas-powered snow blower in an enclosed area, even if the door is open. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, a very dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.

Staying Safe on the Road

It’s important to prepare your car for cold weather as well. Roads can become icy and slick very quickly, so start preparing now, before a storm hits.

Check all your fluid levels, lights and other parts of the car to be sure everything is in proper working condition. Pay special attention to your antifreeze levels and battery. Winter tires may also be a good idea.

Update your emergency vehicle kit. Include a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, blankets, first aid kit and other supplies in case of a breakdown or accident.

Take extra time to get to your destination. People often don’t take weather into account when planning their day, so make sure you remember to plan ahead and leave a little early to make it on time.

We hope you’ll take these tips into consideration when preparing for the winter months. And remember, if you do experience an injury, our Emergency Department is open 24/7 for all emergencies

Winter Safety Tips

View from the Sideline


During youth sporting events, the sidelines are often crowded with players, coaches and parents cheering on the action. Athletic trainers and sports-certified physical therapists are also an important part of this crowd, often overlooked until they are needed. These healthcare professionals are experienced and qualified in the prevention, recognition, assessment and associated treatment or referral of many acute sports and orthopaedic injuries. Their primary responsibility is advocating for the well-being of the athlete and tending to players when injuries occur.

“Having these professionals present provides the athletes access to immediate quality healthcare should an injury occur,” says Eric Smoyer, a physical therapist and athletic trainer who covers many events. “We also provide injury prevention education to athletes, coaches and parents, and help to keep things in perspective when it comes to the athlete’s health and returning to play.” Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital regularly arranges for these qualified professionals to provide coverage on the sidelines of various professional and youth sports organizations in the Omaha area throughout the year.

As sports become more competitive, especially collision sports like football or lacrosse, having the appropriate healthcare providers on the sidelines can ensure proper safety protocols are carried out, if and when an injury occurs. According to Smoyer, the most common injuries seen on the field are not the career-ending ones we tend to see on television or in professional level sports. More often than not, the players may get the wind knocked out of them or cramp up. However, injuries can be more serious, like bony and soft tissue insults or even concussions. In those cases, athletic trainers and sports-certified physical therapists can assess the extent of the injury and recommend if the athlete should return to play.

One of the most important aspects of the athletic trainers and physical therapists is to educate players, their parents and the coaching staff on injury prevention. Raising awareness of common injuries and how to avoid them can provide the opportunity for honest discussion between players and coaches. “We are seeing more athletes who are learning to place greater value into their long-term health through this education,” states Smoyer. “That long-term thinking is possibly one of the most important realizations for those who aspire to become successful career athletes.”

To learn more about the sports medicine rehabilitation at Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital, please contact the Physical and Occupational Therapy Department by calling (402) 609-1750 or visit To inquire about Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital providing coverage for a club or team sport, contact our Sports Medicine Hotline at (402) 609-2800.

View from the Sideline

Air Travel After Joint Replacement


After you’ve recovered from joint surgery, you might be ready for a relaxing vacation. Traveling with a joint implant can be easy and fun. But, there a few things you may need to know before your trip. Here are a few tips to help make your trip as smooth as possible!

  • Discuss your plans with your physician: Many doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks before traveling by air. However, each patient varies, so let your doctor know about your travel plans and talk through their recommendations on keeping comfortable.
  • Be sure to bring any medications in your carry-on: With airlines cutting down on carry-on luggage, you may be tempted to save space and pack your medications in a checked bag. It’s important to have quick access to any medicine you might need during the flight, so consider keeping a few doses close by in your carry-on.
  • Let security know about your implant: Certain types of joint implants can set off airport security alarms. It’s best to be prepared for enhanced security screenings that will detect these implants. As you approach the security area, simply notify one of the TSA officers of your joint implant and where it is located. They will offer you a modified screening that may consist of a hand-held wand or physical pat-down. You may request a private screening if needed. If you have any questions or concerns about airport security screening, call the Transportation Security Administration at 866-289-9673 or visit thewebsite.
  • Carry a joint replacement ID: Your orthopaedic surgeon can provide you with a card confirming your joint replacement status. Although you most likely will not be asked to provide proof of your surgery, these cards may be helpful when going through security.
  • Choose the right seat: Leg room is precious commodity on airplanes, but sometimes can come with a higher price. If first class or business is not an option, consider choosing a preferred seat or one near the front of the plane. These sections tend to have more room to stretch your legs out and maybe more comfortable than a regular economy seat.
  • Move around while in the air: Be sure to try to walk around when possible. It’s recommended to walk up and down the aisle every 15 to 30 minutes to prevent swelling and stiffness. You can also do stretches in your seat to prevent or lessen pain. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist for exercise recommendations.

For more information on joint replacement or to schedule an appointment, please visit

Air Travel After Joint Replacement

What is Rheumatology?


Most people automatically think of arthritis when they hear the term rheumatology. While rheumatoid arthritis is a large part of the field, rheumatology covers much more. Rheumatology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine, focusing on problems with joints, soft tissues, and autoimmune disorders.

Some of the most common diseases treated by rheumatologists include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Lupus and other connective tissue disorders
  • Vasculitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis

Rheumatologists are internal medicine doctors or pediatricians who have received further specialized training for 2 to 3 years in diagnosing and treating these disorders because rheumatic conditions are so complex.

When should I see a Rheumatologist?

Usually your primary care physician will refer you to a rheumatologist for muscle or joint pain that is not resolving as expected. It is important to let your doctor know any and all symptoms to achieve the best treatment results. . If you have a family history of rheumatic problems, your doctor should be informed.

What should I expect during my rheumatology appointment?

It’s always best to be prepared when visiting the doctor. Be sure to update your medical history and bring a list of any medications you may be taking. Also, it may be helpful to have your symptoms listed and any relevant family history documented.

Your rheumatologist will review your symptoms and medical history, as well as lab results that may have been performed. A physical exam will also be completed to help the doctor assess your specific condition. Additional tests or radiographic testing (CT, MRI, x-ray) may be necessary.

Together with the rheumatologist, you can develop a treatment plan that works with your needs. This plan may include medication, physical therapy, or referrals to other specialists.

To learn more about our Rheumatology Specialists or to schedule an appointment, visit

What is Rheumatology?

Updating Your Insurance


With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget about mundane things, like updating your insurance information. Even if you’re keeping the same provider and coverage, it’s important to know your benefits and where you’re covered. Before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, make sure you have your healthcare updates squared away.

Many insurance providers require users to update their preferences each year. Make sure you know when your open enrollment period begins and ends, so you can ensure the best coverage for your family. You may even find a less expensive option! Be sure to update your physicians and other healthcare providers of any changes in your insurance.

Some companies send out new insurance cards each year, so it’s important to bring those with you to your first appointment of the new year. Having your most recent insurance may speed up the check-in process and avoid any confusion when it comes to billing.

We accept many different types of insurance, but it’s always best to check with your insurance provider before your appointment to ensure your procedure/treatment, doctor and hospital are covered. To learn more, visit or call (402) 609-2423.

Updating Your Insurance