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Fall Prevention Tips for MS

By Matt Cavallo


Recently, my right foot has been rolling on me. It isn’t predictable. Sometimes I can be walking on a straight, flat surface and my ankle rolls. I try tightening my shoes and carefully watching each step, but I can’t prevent it from happening. 

I finally made the decision to see a podiatrist about my foot problem. A podiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the study and treatment of foot, ankle and other lower extremity disorders. The appointment consisted of watching me walk and an x-ray of the foot. Upon the completion of the exam, it was determined that I needed to be fitted for a balance brace.

The podiatrist explained the balance brace is for preventative measures and that my symptoms do warrant an assistive device. I experienced drop foot last year because of MS. Drop foot is defined as the difficulty lifting the front part of the foot making walking difficult. I have weakness in the ankle which is causing pronation and me to roll my ankle as I walk. 

Although I am able to walk through my foot problems, there is a constant fear that if my symptoms continue to go untreated, then I am at risk for a serious fall. If I fall, I could break my hip or some other bone, creating further complications. 

Tips for Fall Prevention:

1. Talk to a podiatrist about the foot and ankle issues that you have experienced and discuss AFOs, orthotics or other options to ensure foot and ankle stability.

2. Ask your neurologist, podiatrist, or other doctor about assistive devices for balance and walking. There are many options that can help you maintain your balance and improve your walking ability. Talk to your medical team to see what might work best for you.

3. Get an evaluation by a physical therapist to diagnose any gait (walking) disorders and learn about exercises and other interventions that can help improve your walking and decrease your fall risk.

4. Start an exercise routine for balance improvement. Walking, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and other low-impact exercises can help you work on your balance. Before starting any exercise routine, consult with your neurologist to ensure it is safe for you to begin exercising.

5. Fall proof your living environment:
 
  • Make sure your floor is free of clutter or trip hazards
  • Make sure you have mats in the bathroom, around the sink, doors or other areas that may become wet
  • Ensure that the mats are nonskid

6. Ensure that there are secure railings on steps going into your dwelling or any stairs inside your dwelling.

7. Use handicap accessible ramps when available and be especially careful going onto or getting off of a curb.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.