A view from the ground: Understand and cut risks of falls

I fall, you probably fall. In fact, anyone with mobility issues that include problems with balance is more than likely to fall from time to time.

fallsAnd that’s how I came to find myself sitting on the ground beside my car. My knee gave way as I was trying to transfer to the car from my wheelchair.

This happened just two days ago, after Lisa and I left a restaurant to head home. I tried and failed to get up, both by myself and with help. Then a police car pulled up and the two officers helped me to my feet.

That’s when things became a bit confused. First were communication problems as my basic Spanish language skills matched with one officer’s basic English abilities.

Anyway, after I established that alcohol was not involved, I explained that I had “esclerosis multiple” (pronounced ‘mool-ti-play’). So far, so good – but it became evident that police training does not go as far as MS. Despite my protestations, they wanted to ship me off to hospital and, so, called an ambulance.

At least the ambulance team understood MS, and quickly realized I did not wish to go to hospital. They explained the situation to the police, and said that I was ok to drive. Then we were on our way.

Overall, I felt that the whole experience may have been frustrating but I cannot fault the care from either the police or ambulance crew.

Give falls more thought

All that got me to think about last Friday (September 22) being Falls Prevention Awareness Day in the US. This is designed to encourage people with multiple sclerosis and others who are likely to fall to give more thought to why we fall.

Although the awareness day is coordinated by the National Council on Aging, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) this year presented research into MS-related falls, as well as resources to identify risk factors of falling.

This included the fact that typical MS symptoms, such as poor gait and balance, or the loss of perception of where body parts are, all contribute to your falls. These often happen at home, while you do everyday activities.

According to the NMSS, neurological symptoms are not the only factors as psychological issues are another risk area.  Further, fear of falling, overconfidence, or inactivity can also be factors.

“As MS changes over time and walking becomes more difficult, you may find that you resist accepting help,” the NMSS writes in its guide for minimizing the risk of falls.

It says: “Being able to walk confidently and independently is important, so the idea of losing that independence may be frightening. Tools and tips that can prevent future falls will help to keep you more independent rather than take your independence away… being receptive to them is half the battle.”

Another plus is that the NMSS has also developed the Free From Falls program. This contains eight modules with webinars, downloadable educational material and video-guided exercises.

These materials teach people like you and me about the various risk factors, and also offers tips and strategies to reduce the risk of falls.

I, for one, will be paying close attention.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.


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