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10 Tips to Prevent MS Falls in Your Home

Do-it-yourself home modifications can help reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis-related injuries.

Up to 75 percent of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are affected by balance problems during the course of their disease, increasing the danger of falling and incurring serious injury. As the condition progresses, patients often experience dizziness, tremors, fatigue and stiffness – all of which can contribute to a spill. Simple steps like getting rid of throw rugs, taping down power cords and rearranging furniture can help prevent dangerous falls.

MS Symptoms Cause Falls

Multiple sclerosis patients have trouble maintaining balance because the autoimmune disease interferes with the transmission of signals between the brain, legs, and feet, says Allen Towfigh, MD, a neurologist with the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. When you want to move, your brain must send instructions down the spinal cord to the legs and feet. People with MS often have blocked signal pathways, meaning these instructions aren’t received.

MS symptoms also can make you more prone to falls, says Rock Heyman, MD, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Pay attention to your most common fall factors and be particularly careful when you’re experiencing symptoms:

  • Dizziness and vertigo.When you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or as though the room is spinning around you (vertigo), it can be hard to keep your balance.
  • Spasticity.Occurring most often in the legs, spasticity is a feeling of stiffness in your limbs that makes it difficult to control their movement. Spasticity is one of the most common symptoms of MS and a top contributor to balance problems.
  • Tremors.Tremors, the uncontrollable shaking of your head or limbs, can make it difficult for you to maintain your balance, especially when you’re walking.
  • Fatigue.About 80 percent of people with MS report fatigue or exhaustion. “When you have low energy, you’re more susceptible to problems walking and, thus, falling,” says Jessica Auger, MPT, a staff physical therapist for Bayada Home Health Care in Easton, Mass.
  • Heat and humidity.On a hot, humid day, people with MS may find they are stiffer or weaker or feel numbness in their limbs, Dr. Heyman says.

Prevent MS-Related Falls

Here are 10 simple ways to make your home safer:

  1. Install grab bars on the walls of your tub and shower and near the toilet. Never use towel racks for support — they were not designed to hold a person’s weight and could snap out of the wall.
  2. Don’t use throw rugs. Though aesthetically pleasing, rugs can cause you to trip. If you must use rugs, be sure they have non-skid backings.
  3. If you like showers but are too fatigued to stand, buy a shower chair, and sit on it while you dry yourself off. Standing heightens the risk of slipping, says Debra Frankel, MS, OTR, associate vice president of programs, services, and clinical activities at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  4. Remove clutter and arrange your furniture so that you can easily get around, Auger says. Shoes left by the front door or toys strewn about the playroom are hazards.
  5. Don’t buy furniture that has wheels or swivels because it cannot be relied on for support.
  6. Duct-tape power cords to the floor so they’re not a tripping hazard or avoid them altogether.
  7. Keep a night light on so you can see your way if you get up at night.
  8. In the kitchen, move dishes and frequently used pots, pans, and pantry items to lower shelves and cabinets. “Reaching and looking up at the same time can be difficult for balance,” says Sara Daly, of Middlebury, Vt., a physical therapist and managing director of the Vermont Wellness Professionals Network.
  9. Conserve energy by assigning specific tasks to each room — that way you have the tools you need on hand. This conserves physical energy, reducing fatigue and the risk of a fall.
  10. Install task lighting in the bathroom and kitchen so you can easily see what you’re doing. For example, set up additional lighting under kitchen cabinets or over a center island where you prepare food.





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Date: 17.12.2018, 00:52 / Views: 82334