Simple Tips for Preventing Falls in the Home

“Hi, this is Dr. Silvester and I want to talk to you today a little bit about something that we see not infrequently in our practice, and that’s patients who have suffered a recent fall. There are some things you can do to dramatically decrease the likelihood of a fall in your own home.

The first thing you need to be aware of is obstacles to patients who are prone to fall. Loose rugs, objects on the floor, transition from carpet to tile – those are all at-risk areas and in those areas you should take some precautions. One thing that’s been suggested to me is get a nice solid chair, and put it, for example if you’re going from tile to carpet and you put that near that area, so when the patient gets to that area, they can grab onto the chair and make sure they don’t fall going up onto the carpet. Or, better yet, get rid of the carpet.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that the most common places in the house for falls are the kitchen, because the floor is sometimes slippery and certainly the bathroom, because usually the patient is barefoot, getting in and out of the shower – there’s some obstacles there that create risk for falls. So, getting handicapped bars on the wall can be extremely helpful, and just being careful in those kind of circumstances.

One thing that we can offer here, and we’ve done it to many of our patients when they start to get a little weak and they get a little fragile, or they have neuropathy that makes it so they can’t feel their feet as well as they would like –  is a brace that we can use that dramatically increases the stability in the patient, so that when they’re walking they’re not at such a great risk of falls, if they can wear that brace inside their shoe. It’s just a brace that comes up the leg a little ways and goes down inside the shoe, and it provides the ankle with a little more support but also it provides it with what we call proprioception, which means the ability to feel your foot in space so that you know where your foot is. The other thing that it helps, is people that have a little foot drag, what we call drop foot. It helps eliminate that so that when they go through swing phase of gait, their toes can clear obstacles. It’s been shown to be quite effective at lowering the risk of falls.

Take some good advice and do those few things around your house if you’re at risk for falls. If you’re not and you know somebody who is, you might want to mention some of those tips. The other thing is – if you know somebody who has falls and is getting a little older, using a walker or a balance brace might be something that can really help them prevent the disaster that is a fall in many patients. Give us a call here at the Next Step Foot and Ankle Clinic and we’ll see if you qualify and if we can help you with that device. Thanks for listening.”