Gait, or difficulty with walking, is one of the most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, and often it is one of the first symptoms someone experiences. There are many reasons for gait issues as well such as, muscle weakness, spasticity, loss of balance, loss of sensation and fatigue.
It seems obvious that many of these issues could lead to an individual falling down. And many of us do! Several studies have reported that a whopping 50-70% of people have fallen down in the past 6 months, with 30% of those people falling more than once. That’s a lot of people with a lot of falls and a lot of risk for injury! The individuals with the highest risk for falls are people who have poor balance, reduced proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), taking medications that affect the nervous system and misusing assistive devices.
Physical therapy, consistent exercise and regular stretching are great preventative strategies. These methods help to maintain muscle strength, flexibility and mobility. Focusing particularly on the core can also be very beneficial, as the core is crucial in maintaining balance. If these methods are not proving useful, and symptoms are increasing, the use of assistive devices might be needed. Better to be safe than sorry. Recovering from a fall can be a long road, and if it’s avoidable, all the more reason.
During one of my relapses a few years back, I struggled with weakness on the right side of my body, which included my leg. It slightly affected my walking, but not to the point where I had to get a device, or change how I walked (that I noticed anyway at the time, but I’m sure it did). I’ve actually fallen several times, but it was in the context of vertigo, not ongoing gait issues.
What walking/gait issues have you dealt with? How did you overcome them?
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