How to avoid falls

Some of you may have experienced a drunken fall on a night out, managed to get up, brush yourself down and move on with barely any scrapes or bruises. I may not have fallen in years, but I can still very clearly remember every fall I had. Where it was and how much time it took me to recover because it’s not like those drunken falls, where your immediate reaction is to put your hands out. For me, it was like watching a tree fall in slow motion, it’s one of the reasons I knew in my head I had Muscular Dystrophy but very much avoided the situation even after being diagnosed.

Having muscular dystrophy is scary for a number of reasons. High up on that list is experiencing a fall. There is a period where for those of us in a transition stage for walking to wheels the thought of losing control and potentially breaking a bone, which could lead to more problems down the road, is a well-founded fear.

One fall I remember is when my foot was swiftly taken out by an electric door while it was closing at my local hospital, where unfortunately I did break my foot at least I was in the right place! – I was on my way to my very first appointment with my neurologist doctor that specialised in Muscular Dystrophy. I really couldn’t make that up even if I tried!

I have had a few scrapes and bruises though the years when I was navigating a new world of muscular dystrophy. I cut the back of my ear, hit my head off the kitchen side. Fortunately only one break but could have been way worse.

This is what I learnt along the way.

To prevent falls from happening to you, your daughter, son, or a friend, it’s always important to take note of your surroundings lean on something sturdy when standing, for those of us that are still able to stand and use a wheelchair, maintain control of your power chair, conserve energy as much as possible, and communicate with your PA’s or caregiver/s.

Take note of things, where are the kids or dog toys? Are there any changes in surfaces? Are other people in the house moving around? It’s easy to get distracted thinking we’re okay, so take your time be the tortoise not the hare!

Walking and standing with MD is like negotiating the highest peak of the world all the time.

Identifying objects that can help you stabilise if needed, such as couches (I used these), chairs, or sides. That way, if you feel like your going to ever lose balance, you can quickly reach out and brace yourself. But as much as we try there’s also going to be times that nothing will stop you from falling, minimising the risk of a break is very important trying to fall in a manner that is not going to break any bones can become an art form. But be wary of when people try and help by stopping you falling because sometimes that can create more damage. You run the risk of them falling on top of you you also run the risk of them hurting themselves. Sometimes it’s just safer for everyone if they allow you to fall on your own.

I remember one situation where my husband tried to stop me from falling we both ended up in a heap on the floor him on top of me and my leg bent behind my back luckily, nothing was broken I was just very bruised.

It’s extremely important to know your limits and to be honest with yourself. If you think it’s impossible to stand without immediately falling, don’t do it. Being careful also applies to people who can stand and support their own weight. If you aren’t at home, I would try to stay in your chair as much as possible, as there may be too many variables to control and too many obstacles to trip you up.

Power chairs are lifesavers for people with any disability not just MD. They are our legs and our way of participating in the outside world. At the same time, they are powerful machines that must be handled with care if you want to avoid falling or sustaining a serious injury.

Learning to Install in our heads or teaching your child if your a parent of MD, that conserving energy as much as possible is beneficial to living with MD. This idea applies to falling, too, because if you are tired, you are more likely to lose control of your muscles and end up wondering how you got on the ground. You must be in tune with your body and know when it’s time to stay in your chair or rest, and when it’s safe to get up.

For some, there is also the risk of being dropped by someone else. This is where communication needs to be clear. A caretaker will obviously be trained to pick you up correctly, but it’s on you to speak up if something is wrong. The last thing anyone wants is for you to get hurt.

But remember what worked for me might not work for everyone, we are all different and have our own experiences and know our own bodies better than anyone, especially when it comes to falling.

Do you have any other tips that might help someone when it comes to falling I would love to hear – feel free to leave me a comment.

Kisses K

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