APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Fall Prevention - How? Why?

People with Parkinson's are at high risk of falling due to problems with balance, rigidity, and slowness of movement -- the primary motor symptoms of PD. Serious falls can lead to numerous injuries, including head injuries, broken hips, and other bone fractures. Complications from these injuries may require hospitilization or long-term rehabilitation. In some cases, falls can lead to death.

Some keys to preventing falls include exercise, good medication management and a safe home environment. Consider enrolling in a fall prevention program that may address some or all of these topics.

Consider talking a fall prevention program! Check out our list of fall prevention programs in Northern and Central California. Many fall prevention programs are at hospitals or senior centers.

Other good resources are listed below.

Relevant Publications - Downloadable

“Caregiving Checklist: Preventing Falls”
Published by AARP, 2007
Consider these safety improvements to make your and your loved one’s home as slip-free as possible.  Inspect the inside and outside of the house, and check off the items that are complete and the ones you still need to do.

 

“Fall Prevention, Parkinson’s Disease”
Published by VA Health Care Parkinson’s Disease Research Education & Clinical Centers (PADRECC)
This tri-fold brochure includes recommendations for fall prevention measures in the areas of household safety, self help and medical support, research from 2011-2012 into the benefits of Tai Chi and vitamin D, and a list of online fall prevention sources.

 

“Falls Prevention Workbook,” by Jeanne Csuy, PT, and Nathalie Grondin, PT
Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation (Formerly the National Parkinson Foundation)
This 136-page workbook has several self assessments for risk factors related to falls with simple lifestyle and environment changes to improve and maintain independence and quality of life.  Section 22 includes several exercises for strength and flexibility and section 24 explains how to handle a fall and get up from the floor.

 

“Parkinson’s Disease: Preventing Falls & Maintaining Balance”
Published by the Cleveland Clinic
This printable webpage recommends working with your doctor to ensure your medications and/or DBS are optimal and consulting with a physical therapist to assess your walking and balance.  In addition it provides two lists of daily fall prevention: 1) How to prevent falls from common hazards around the home and 2) Tips for maintaining balance.

 

“Physical Therapy for Fall Prevention in People with Parkinson’s Disease,” by Sarah Ison, DPT, GCS
Published by the American Physical Therapy Association, Section on Neurology
This 2-page fact sheet highlights some ways in which falling is more of a risk for those with Parkinson’s and explains how physical therapy can help at all stages of the disease.

 

"Understanding Parkinson's Fall Prevention"
Published by the Parkinson's Foundation (Formerly the Parkinson's Disease Foundation), 2009
Good two-page fact sheet on fall prevention in PD.


Relevant Online Information

"31 Tips For Future Proofing Your Home"
Published by Easy Climber, November 27, 2016
Good infographic on this webpage for 31 ways to age-proof a home. Most of the tips are about fall prevention.

 

"Fall Prevention Center of Excellence"
This website has lots of great info on fall prevention.

 

“Five Fall Prevention Strategies for People with Parkinson’s Disease,” by Faaria Ansari
Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, March 24, 2016
Balance, posture and gait issues, vision changes and orthostatic hypotension increase your risk of falling.  This blog post recommends talking with your neurologist to determine your risk for falling and making changes to reduce that risk, like medication adjustments, assistive devices, exercises that focus on balance and small adjustments in your home.

 

"Home Safety"
Published by the Parkinson's Foundation (Formerly the Parkinson's Disease Foundation)
This webpage (previously newsletter article) has tips for home safety throughout the house.

 

“Simple Steps to Prevent Falls”
Published by AARP, 2017
Use these tips around the house and decrease your chances of serious injury.

 


Relevant Online Lectures and Webinars

“Balancing Act: Fall Prevention in Parkinson’s”
Published by the Parkinson's Foundation (Formerly the National Parkinson Foundation), June 17, 2014
This 1-hour webinar by Dr. Bastiaan R. Bloem explains the importance of having a physical therapist to advise you in a safe exercise program, the many causes of falls for people with Parkinson’s disease, and the importance of reporting to your doctor if your falls occur in the On or Off state to individually tailor fall intervention.

 

“Can We Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s”
By Parkinson’s UK, March 23, 2016
In this 31-minute lecture Dr. Emily Henderson talks about the serious impact of falls, neurological causes of falls, and her clinical trial, the results of which suggest that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors could help to prevent falls in Parkinson’s patients by enhancing concentration.

 

“Fall Prevention”
By OhioHealth, December 19, 2017
In this 21-minute lecture physical therapist, Jessica Allen, identifies hazards in our home and community that put Parkinson’s patients at-risk for falls such as floors, stairs, bathrooms, etc. and how to prevent them.

 

“How Can Falls Be Prevented?”
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, August 20, 2009
In this 6:30-minute video Dr. John Nutt explains the three most common causes of falling in those with Parkinson’s is postural change, freezing and low blood pressure.  Your doctor may be able to reduce your risk.  A physical therapist (PT) can teach you how to move in ways that lessen your risk of falling as well as help you prevent falling by making changes to your home, learn to use an assistive device or recommend how a wheelchair can be helpful.

 

“Maximize Your Mobility with Fall Prevention”
By the Davis Phinney Foundation
In this 20-minute lecture physical therapist, Heather Knight, explains different factors that play into our individual risks for falls, like tripping hazards, changes in walking surfaces and poor lighting, as well as what you can do to make your home safer to reduce your risk of falling and to strengthen movement.

 

“What are Some Strategies to Prevent Falls in PD Patients?”
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, February 19, 2010
In this 4-minute video Dr. Bastiaan Bloem recommends preventing falls in those with Parkinson’s disease with a multi-disciplinary approach.  He outlines specific tasks for a neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and rehabilitation specialist.  When prevention of falls is not possible protective measures should be installed around the home, learn to use a walking aid properly or even wear a helmet.

 


This list last updated by Denise Dagan, February 2018. Initially compiled in September 2012 by Robin Riddle with Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.

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