Falling is not limited to those living with MS. Actors and graduates have fallen off stages. Skaters and skiers fall because of tiny mistakes.
None of us wants to make a spectacle of ourselves. Besides getting injured, what also hurts is the embarrassment.
If you fall:
- Before you attempt to get up, take an inventory of yourself to be sure you haven't been seriously hurt. If you have been injured, ask someone to call 911 for you.
- Stay in control. Well-meaning bystanders may rush to your side to help. And may rush to get you upright. Calmly tell those around you how you intend to get up and how they can assist you. Maintaining composure keeps you in charge.
- Bring some humor to the situation! Humor relaxes you and those around you and makes it easier to recover your self-esteem. Be prepared with some funny comebacks just in case (see box below).
- Say thank you to anyone who has helped. Graciousness goes a long way in maintaining your dignity.
But…. Do all you can not to fall!
- You are at risk of falling if you have balance problems, spasticity, or weakness in your legs. Work with a physical therapist to learn how to walk and move more safely. A PT can also teach you the safest ways to get up from a fall.
- If, after working with a PT, you still struggle with falling, consider using a cane, walker, or a brace. Often people avoid this step because they want “to look normal” but falling doesn't look normal and can hurt you!
Other ways to reduce the risk
- Wear safe, low-heeled shoes.
- Be conscious of where you are walking. For instance, stay away from a freshly washed floor.
- Make your home safe. Keep the areas where you walk clear. Move electric cords and telephone wires out of the way. Tack down loose carpets or remove them. Apply no-slip strips to tile and wooden floors.
Favorite comeback lines
- We all have our ups and downs.
- Something is telling me I need a rest.
- When did they redo the ceiling?
- You know, it's so much cooler down here.
Author: Patricia Kennedy, RN, CNP, MSCN, Nurse Educator, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.