9 Fall Prevention Tips for People With Parkinson’s Disease | Revere Health

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:

  • Lacerations and bruising
  • Fractures and breaks
  • Hospitalization
  • Loss of independence
  • Increased risk of future falls
  • Increased health care costs

There are several steps you can take to prevent falls:

1. Take an honest inventory of your risks and limitations

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:

  • Length of disease duration
  • Certain medications
  • Freezing episodes
  • Impaired posture, balance or gait
  • Cognitive (thinking) impairment
  • Sleep disturbances and disorders
  • Poor vision

Talk openly with your doctor about your limitations and work together to create the best course of action for your health and safety.

2. Find support

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.

3. Make home modifications

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.

4. Exercise regularly

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.

5. Work with a physical or occupational therapist

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.

6. Practice balance techniques

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:

  • Consciously lift your feet when walking: Shuffling or dragging your feet makes you more prone to falling.
  • Widen your base: Try to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. This gives you a wider, more stable base and reduces your risk of falling.
  • Swing both arms when walking: Swinging both arms front to back while walking helps you maintain a good posture and balance.
  • Avoid pivoting movements: Instead, practice making wide turns when you want to change direction.
  • Change positions slowly: Before making any abrupt movements, make sure you have your balance. Make concentrated movements and take pauses between movements. For example, when changing from a sitting position to walking, wait 15 seconds after first getting up from your chair before moving forward.

7. Use a walking aid

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.

8. Avoid multitasking

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.

9. Wear proper footwear

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.

Our neurologists are trained specialists and work with your primary care physicians to develop a treatment plan personalized for you. We have access to the latest in imaging technology and our specialists are up to date on the most recent treatment options.

Sources:

 

“Fall Frequency and Risk Assessment in Early Parkinson’s Disease.” TS Voss. US National Library of Medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424355/

“Physical and Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s.” Parkinson’sDisease.Net.

https://parkinsonsdisease.net/treatment/physical-occupational-therapy/

“Reducing Fall Risk with Parkinson’s.” Parkinson’sDisease.Net.

https://parkinsonsdisease.net/living-with-pd/reduce-fall-risk/

“Parkinson’s Disease: Preventing Falls & Maintaining Balance.” Cleveland Clinic.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9390-parkinsons-disease-preventing-falls–maintaining-balance

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.

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