Falls can be common for some people with MS and may happen for different reasons e.g. when feeling fatigue, if you have sensory problems, muscle weakness, if you are in a hurry etc.
During this time of Covid-19, we are advising everyone to play it a bit safe when walking or exercising to avoid falls. For some people it will be safest to exercise whilst sitting, which can still give you a full body workout. For others it might be okay to do standing exercises using a firm support (such as a chair) and/or with someone close by. Whatever you do - listen to your body, and practise taking sufficient breaks during your day, to help avoid falls.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has lots of recommendations to avoid falls. Although the following link is addressed to the elderly population, it is also worth a read if you have MS:
What should I do if I have had a fall?
Try not to push the panic button!
Wait a few minutes to gather yourself and feel calmer, then assess the situation. Although the immediate effect of a fall is that you usually feel shaken, try to remember that only a few falls result in injury.
If you are unhurt, try crawling to a sturdy chair and getting up as shown below. Contact a friend, neighbour or relative and let them know what has happened.
What if I cannot get up by myself?
If you are hurt or unable to get up – summon help. Use your personal alarm if you have one. Otherwise crawl or shuffle to the phone if you are able or shout or bang on the wall/floor to alert someone. Try and keep warm (reach for something to keep you covered and stay away from drafts if possible). If able, move to a softer surface to stay more comfortable and protect your skin. Place a support under your head if able. If you are not injured, trying to keep moving will help you from getting cold and developing pressure sores. You could for instance roll from side to side if able and keep arms and legs moving as much as possible. If you empty your bladder, try and soak up the wet with something within reach. Then move away from the wet area if able, to avoid getting cold.
Take home message
- Stay as active as you can (while maintaining safety) to avoid falls.
- Check out the recommendations to avoid falls from Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
- Make a “just in case” plan of action should you have a fall.