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Minimizing Your Risk of Falls: A Guide for People with MS

Learn how you can reduce your risk of falling. To find out about fall prevention programs in your area, call 1-800-344-4867. 

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ADA Standards for Accessible Design

These regulations apply to places of public accommodation.

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Publication

Driving with Multiple Sclerosis

Addresses questions and concerns about how MS might affect a person’s ability to drive now or in the future. Includes information about driving evaluations and different types of auto adaptive equipment.

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In this article
Featured Video

Staying Independent: Driving with MS

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis doesn’t have to prevent you from staying independent. Learn about adaptations—such as hand controls—to keep you in the driver’s seat.

Overview

Ongoing management of symptoms caused by MS is essential for maintaining mobility, productivity and involvement. Many MS symptoms can interfere with mobility, including fatigue, spasticity, dizziness and vertigo, pain, numbness, and problems with walking, coordination, and vision, among others. Even depression, which is very common in MS, can interfere with a person’s ability to stay mobile and active.
 
Talking with the healthcare team about symptoms and the impact of those symptoms on one’s personal goals and priorities, is the starting point for staying active.

The right shoes

From prehistoric animal skins to high-tech athletic shoes, footwear has evolved over thousands of years. For many people, style is the primary consideration. People with MS may have other concerns, such as how symptoms like spasticity, numbness, impaired balance and foot drop may affect walking. Finding the right shoes can make all the difference. 

Automobile adaptations

When symptoms of MS such as fatigue, weakness, incoordination, sensory changes in feet or hands, vision problems, or cognitive changes interfere with driving safely, an occupational therapist or certified ADED driving specialist can assess your needs and recommend adaptations and tools (.pdf), and vehicle or van modifications to help keep you driving as long as possible. Your consultation will result in a prescription for the precise equipment you need, and may result in driving lessons with the new equipment.

While used wheelchair vans, SUVs, trucks and cars are ideal options for some, a custom-built mobility vehicle can offer more comprehensive or personalized conversion options. Consult with a mobility equipment dealer, such as the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), to determine which option is best for you.

Mobility aids

Mobility aids can help you get where you want to go while conserving energy and preventing falls. Learn how to choose the aid that is right for you and meet the rehabilitation professionals who can assess your needs and recommend the most appropriate aid(s). Mobility aids can:

  • Make shopping trips manageable and visits to a museum or zoo a pleasure
  • Make a new sport possible or reopen the door to an old favorite. People who use scooters and wheelchairs bowl, fish, ski, and play golf, tennis or basketball.
  • Enable you to go places without having to rely on others.
  • Prevent falls and show others that the problem is medical—not substance abuse.
Video Series

Choosing the Mobility Device that's Right for You

Two part video series featuring Jean Minkel, Senior Vice President of Rehabilitation Services, at the Independent Care System of NY addresses the importance of selecting the wheeled mobility device that best fits your needs.

Part 1:  The Assessment

Part 2: Wheeled Mobility Options

To activate the closed captions when playing the videos on YouTube, click on the CC button on the toolbar that appears below the video, and select on.

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Assistance animals

Service dogs can be trained to perform an impressive range of tasks, including:

  • guiding
  • alerting to sounds
  • opening and closing doors
  • retrieval
  • pulling wheelchairs
  • providing balance support
  • turning lights on and off and more

Here are some things you should consider if you're thinking about getting a service dog:

  • Do you have the funds, time, and support to meet your service dog’s needs?
  • Are you able to exercise a dog and clean up after him or her? Do you have a reliable person willing to do this when you can’t—come rain, snow, sleet, hail, summer heat, or an MS flare?
  • Do you have or can you raise funds to pay for regular veterinary care, as well as food, accessories, and training aids? If funds are tight, have you researched potential financial resources? (Help may be available.)
  • Will you be consistent in working with your service dog and use the training techniques you will learn? Can you be patient if a training routine is not going well, and figure out ways to turn it around?
  • Are you willing to make a ten-year, or more, commitment to a dog?

To help you think about whether a service dog may help you improve your mobility, contact:

Assistance Dog United Campaign - Nationwide health and human welfare organization which provides financial assistance in the form of vouchers to individuals with disabilities who wish to obtain an assistance dog. Vouchers for service, hearing and guide dogs may be available and must be redeemed at one of the 100+ member programs located throughout the U.S. See website for more information. Applications are available in April and May of each year and must be submitted by May 31 each year.
 
Assistance Dogs International - Members of ADI educate the public about assistance dogs, advocate for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs, and help to set standards and establish guidelines and ethics for the training of these dogs. Provides an online directory of ADI-accredited assistance dog programs throughout the world.
 
Canine Partners for Life - non-profit organization dedicated to professionally training, providing, and supporting service dogs (including various types of medical alert dogs) and companion dogs, to assist individuals with a wide range of disabilities. CPL’s primary efforts are focused on persons living within a 250-mile radius of Cochranville, PA, but they are able to place dogs with recipients from across the nation. Contact CPL for more information.
 
Paws With A Cause – non-profit organization which enhances the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities throughout the U.S. through custom-trained assistance dogs. The PAWS online application form is available each year from April 1 to June 30 only.

Resources

  • Taking the Next Step- Momentum article
  • Staying Behind the Wheel- Momentum article
  • Animal Attraction- Momentum article
  • Accessible Vans of America, LLC
    Offers nationwide rental of wheelchair and scooter accessible vans.
  • AmRamp
    AmRamp is a leading provider of modular wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, vertical platform lifts and other accessibility solutions. Amramp wheelchair ramps are freestanding and usually require no home modifications, contractors, permits or property tax assessments. Amramp also offers an expanded line of accessibility equipment, including stairlifts, vertical platform lifts, overhead patient lifts and portable roll-in showers. Amramp's representatives are factory-trained accessibility specialists in ramp design and installation and will provide a free evaluation and consultation to determine what ramp is best for your needs.
  • Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)
    Provides an online search tool to locate rehabilitation specialists, certified driver rehabilitation specialists, and mobility equipment dealers that install equipment.
  • Digital Federal Credit Union
    Federal insured national credit union, which offers private loans to persons with disbilities.
    • Offers Access Loans for the purchase of products, devices or building modifications designed to assist someone with a disability.
    • Offers Mobility Vehicle Loans for vehicles with equipment/modifications to assist persons with disabilities. Loan may be used for new or used vehicles, purchase or refinance, but not solely for modifications.
  • Disabled Dealer
    Nationwide online marketplace for private parties to buy and sell accessible vehicles, medical equipment and adaptive accessories.
  • Discount Ramps
    Discount Ramps is a nationwide online retailer which offers an expansive selection of loading, hauling and transporting solutions. Products include ramps (for home and vehicle applications), wheelchair lifts, mobility aids, and scooter carriers, among many others. Product experts are available over-the-phone to consult with customers and help them locate the best product for their needs, application, and budget.
  • National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association Nationwide network of accessible vehicle dealers.
  • Vantage Mobility International
    Network of mobility dealers offering sales and service of new and used wheelchair vans.
  • Wheelchair Getaways
    Nationwide rental of wheelchair and scooter accessible vans.
Video Series

Free From Falls

Some MS symptoms and treatments may increase your risk of falling. Falls can be more than just a nuisance — they could lead to serious injuries. This two part vidoe series offers comprehensive fall prevention strategies.

Part 1

Part 2

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Driving Evaluation: A Step Towards Independence

Learn how a driving evaluation can be a step towards maintaining your independence as a driver after a diagnosis of MS.

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