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June 27, 2018 | Neurology • Value-Based Care
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive condition of the nervous system that impacts movement and balance, which often causes falls.
The annual fall rate of people with PD is double the annual fall rate of elderly people, so it’s important for patients to practice prevention techniques to avoid complications of falling, including:
There are several steps you can take to prevent falls:
Knowing your risks and limitations can help you make a realistic plan to prevent falls. Your doctor can help identify your risks by conducting a fall risk assessment. Risk factors that increase your likelihood of falling include:
Talk openly with your doctor about your limitations and work together to create the best course of action for your health and safety.
Involve people you love and trust in your healthcare experience. Have someone go with you to doctors appointments and help you maintain a safe environment. Try not to rely on the support of a single individual, but create a support group that can help you manage all aspects of your condition.
Simple adaptations to your living space, like getting rid of rugs, minimizing floor clutter and installing support rails/grab bars, can help you prevent falls. The AARP provides this checklist to ensure your home is as fall-free as possible.
Exercise is healthy for your body and your brain. Talk with your doctor about what kinds of exercises are right for you and your situation, and avoid doing anything that may increase your risk of falls. In general, it’s a good idea to focus on exercises that emphasize balance and concentration, but aerobic, flexibility and strength-building exercises are also beneficial. If you are nervous, exercise with a friend.
Physical therapists can also help you develop an exercise routine that meets your needs and helps you maintain strength and mobility as long as possible. Occupational therapists help you find ways to continue your day-to-day activities by suggesting modifications to your environment and help you develop coping and management skills. Your doctor offer advice about which type of therapy is best for you.
Because Parkinson’s disease impairs your ability to balance, it’s important to practice techniques that can help you maintain balance when moving. These include:
At some point, you may need a walking aid to help you get around. There are several options for walking aids, including canes, carts, walkers and rollators. Your doctor can help you decide which walking aid is best for you.
Many people find that multitasking while becomes increasingly difficult as the disease progresses. A common multitasking practice is talking on the phone while walking. Try to avoid this and other tasks, like looking through your bag or reading, while walking.
Try to avoid shoes with rubber soles or shoes that may “catch” on the floor and cause you to trip or fall. If you wear slippers, make sure they are snug on the feet and have a non-skid sole.
Your doctor or therapist can help you identify other ways to help you prevent falls and manage your disease effectively.
“Fall Frequency and Risk Assessment in Early Parkinson’s Disease.” TS Voss. US National Library of Medicine.
“Physical and Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s.” Parkinson’sDisease.Net.
“Reducing Fall Risk with Parkinson’s.” Parkinson’sDisease.Net.
“Parkinson’s Disease: Preventing Falls & Maintaining Balance.” Cleveland Clinic.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.