After you slip, trip and fall, do you often feel like you should have been able to keep your balance?
After all, it wasn't some major event throwing you off your feet. You just slipped on a wet patch on the supermarket floor or you tripped over an extension cord that someone carelessly left out at work. It's a minor event, and you have been balancing and walking your entire life. Why do you fall all the way to the ground, risking a sprained ankle, a fractured wrist or even a head injury?
If you've ever wondered, you'll be glad to know that researchers at the University of Michigan studied this type of event with an electroencephalogram (EEG), and they have a very good idea of why it happens.
Using the EEG allows researchers to look at the brain's electrical responses. When someone falls or trips, they can see exactly how the brain reacts, even when everything happens at an incredible speed.
One thing they noticed is that many people were not yet falling when their brains already understood that they had lost their balance. In many cases, both of the person's feet were still firmly planted on the surface below them, but the brain already knew that something was wrong. This means that, at the very moment you contact that extension cord or the wet patch on the floor, your brain already knows you have a problem. No one watching you would know you were falling, but your brain would.
Doesn't that suggest that you should be able to catch your balance easily? It does, but the reason you fall is due to lag. Just because your brain knows you are falling does not mean your muscles are moving and reacting. The muscles are far slower to react, and that lag means you can lose your balance even when your brain knows full well that you need to catch yourself. Your body just can't keep up.
If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, there may be legal options in your favor so it's important to learn what steps you may want to take.
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