How to Fall Safely and Get Up Safely After a Fall
For an individual, falling can have a significant impact upon one's psychological and physical health, as well as their quality of life. From time to time, falls can result in injuries which can also place great strain on finances and the health care system.
Research has shown that approximately 60.5% of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease will experience a fall at some point, with 39% experiencing recurrent falls, compared to 15% of the aging population who fall recurrently. Individuals who experience multiple falls will fall (on average) 21 times per year.
There are many reasons why someone may be at risk of recurrent falls. These can include previous falls, an individual's fear of falling, impaired mobility and/or reduced physical activity levels, muscle weakness, impaired balance, aging, progression in Parkinson’s Disease (severity and/or duration), an increase in motor impairment or cognitive impairment, use of medications, and the freezing of gait (walking). There is also a link between dual tasking (doing multiple tasks at the same time) and falling in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.
Tips from an Exercise Physiologist
How to fall safely:
1. When falling, tuck your chin towards your chest to protect the back of your head when you sense yourself falling. Damage to the back of the head can be catastrophic and we want to keep this area to stay away from hard or sharp surfaces that may be present during a fall.
2. When landing try not to break the fall with your hands. Keep your hands up and close to your body until you have landed, then let your arms relax towards the ground. The impact of a landing can lead to further injuries in the hands or wrists which can be more severe when coupled with other conditions like osteoporosis.
How to get up safely after a fall:
1. Are you ok? Are you in severe pain? Can you move your arms and legs?
o If you are alright, continue with the steps below.
o If you are not ok, stay where you are and call for help if you can. Make sure you have the app what3words downloaded and available for use in the event of an emergency. These three words can be read to emergency services, and they will know exactly where to find you.
2. If you are on your back, get into recovery position.
o Whilst lying (arms and legs out straight (if possible) put one arm up next to your head at a right angle.
o Cross the other arm so it is touching the shoulder of the arm that is out to the side.
o Bend knee of the leg (same side of crossed arm) and roll yourself over into recovery position.
o Rest head on arm until you are ready to proceed.
3. Continue to roll over onto your front and get onto all fours (hands and knees).
o Now you will be able to slowly stand up. Make sure to initiate this from your legs and keep your hands in contact with the floor for as long as possible, otherwise you may lose balance and fall again.
o In this position you will be able to crawl around to find a supportive structure (pole, wall, chair etc.) to help you up or even someone/electronic device to call for help.
I’m fearful of falling and feeling unsteady on my feet. What can I do?
Book an appointment with an Exercise Physiologist. An Exercise Physiologist is a university qualified allied professional who has experience in treating a wide range of medical conditions. They will be able to help you with an exercise-based approach to make you stronger to assist with activities of daily living; including improving balance, mobility, and gait, and reducing falls risk, along with other goals and concerns you may have.