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Published on March 12, 2018

Fall Prevention With Parkinson's Disease or Other Movement Disorders

Parkinson's disease and fall risk

Falls can be a serious problem for individuals with neurologic disorders that affect the way they move.  People with Parkinson's disease commonly experience a loss of balance, freezing episodes and stiffness.  Those with multiple sclerosis can also experience joint stiffness and run out of energy quickly, which can make movement difficult. For these patients, the first step in preventing falls is understanding what is most likely to cause a fall. Then, they can develop strategies that help minimize the possibility of a fall happening.

Tips to avoid falls

  • Clear pathways – remove clutter that can be tripped over from your walkways.
  • Use proper gear – wear supportive shoes and use any recommended assistive devices when you’re moving around your home
  • Watch out for pets – animals want to be close to you, but they can also be tripped over. If you’ll be cooking or walking back and forth a lot, try to keep your pets in another room.
  • Time your medication – dizziness, stiffness or fatigue can be worse right before your next dose of medication. If you plan on going out, time your trips in between doses when you feel strongest.
  • Rest – when needed, don’t be afraid to rest until you’ve regained some energy.
  • Plan ahead – if you’re going out, plan out your trip. If you’re going to a park, pick one with benches you can rest on. If you need to go to a busy public space, try to go during the off hours when there won’t be a crowd. If it’s the middle of summer, plan to go out early or later in the day, when it’s cooler.
  • Relax – if stress causes you to tense up, practice relaxation techniques to help you loosen up.

About Our Expert

Kristen Unger is a doctor of physical therapy at Cone Health Outpatient Rehab Center at Reidsville,