Falls remain the leading cause of hospitalization of seniors in Canada , with 16% of falls occurring while walking on snow or ice. Slippery surfaces are a common cause of falls . Therefore, we can reduce falls with better slip-resistant footwear . However, we do not have credible methods for testing footwear slip-resistance that account for the variability of dynamic human movement.
Using WinterLab, we have a developed a protocol to test footwear by having participants walk up and down slippery slopes. WinterLab is a 5m by 5m self-contained lab where we have the ability to lower the temperature below zero to create snow and ice. This lab can be attached to our 6 degree of freedom motion base to create slopes up to 22 degrees as shown below.
The slope of the room is increased from level for a given pair of footwear until we start to see slips occurring. The maximum achievable slope for given footwear/surface combination can be used to define the slip-resistance of a pair of footwear.
Here’s a video that goes into more detail about what we’ve learned about winter footwear: