Protecting Your Upper Body from Hazards Around the Home

Upper Body Protective Technique

If you learn to use the following Upper Body Protective Technique correctly, your forearm will act as a "bumper" to protect your head and the upper part of your body from hanging plants, open cupboard doors, and room doors that are partially ajar. You can also use this technique when bending down to pick up objects or when checking a chair seat before sitting down.Even if you have some usable vision and think you are safe, don't take the risk--never, bend over without using this safety technique.

It's important to remember that this technique will only partially protect your shoulder and chest area, and will not protect you below the waist or warn you about approaching drop-offs, such as steps and stairs. For maximum protection, you should use a combination of upper and lower body protective techniques and/or a long white cane.

The technique:

  1. Raise your stronger arm to shoulder height and extend it out in front of your body, as if you were pointing straight ahead.
  2. Bend your arm so that your forearm is across your chest, and touch your opposite shoulder with your fingertips.
  3. Move your hand approximately 10-12 inches away from your shoulder.
  4. You can estimate this distance by visualizing a shoe box or ruler placed lengthwise between your shoulder and your hand.
  5. Curl your fingers, spread them slightly apart, and keep your wrist straight as you turn your palm outward so that it faces away from your body.
  6. Keep your elbow chest high while you raise the forearm diagonally across the body until your hand is about ten inches in front of your face.
  7. Turn your palm outward with your fingers pointing at a slight angle back toward your face to protect them from injury and allow the forearm to serve as a buffer.
  8. It is important to maintain your hand and arm in this position, so that your upper body is partially protected.
  9. Initially, you may be able to hold this position for only a minute or two, but with repeated practice you will be able to maintain this position for longer periods of time. If your hand and arm are "floppy," they will not be as effective in protecting your head and upper body.
  10. If your arm becomes tired, you can switch and use your other arm, repeating the previous steps to maintain the correct position.
  11. If you are unable to raise your arm due to conditions such as arthritis, stroke, or Parkinson's, try wearing a visor to protect your face.

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