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How Can I Prevent Falls?

People living with PD may experience falls due to the primary motor symptoms related to the loss of dopamine. While it may be inevitable that falls may happen, the important thing is to try to minimize falls as much as possible. The three key things to keep in mind to try to prevent falls are:

  • Talk to your medical team (neurologist/therapist) to see if assistance may be needed by getting a walker, cane, walking poles, etc. for the extra security while remaining active.

  • Continue to exercise to improve overall balance, posture, strength, and stamina.

  • Make the home safer with adjustments - you can learn more about doing this in Home Safety.

How can you prevent falls?

  • Don't rush

  • Don't multi-task - this could cause distraction

  • Use walking devices as recommended

  • If you think an activity is unsafe, it likely is - ask for help

  • Use handrails when available

  • Practice new turn, walking and freeze-reach techniques often

  • Declutter your surroundings and remove tripping hazards such as cords and throw rugs. Use good lighting and nightlights

  • Avoid rolling chairs

  • Stay consistent with your home exercise routine to increase muscle strength, stability, and balance - use physical therapists to create the best exercise program for fall prevention.

  • Make sure you take your medication as prescribed.

  • Always keep one hand free to grab onto surrounding objects or break the force of a fall if needed.

Safe Movement Techniques

Sitting Down in a Chair

When sitting, turn all the way around so that the backs of both legs touch the chair. Reach back with both arms to slowly lower yourself down. Never reach forward for the chair first and then turn to sit. This can lead to landing sideways on the end of the chair, landing too hard in the chair, or missing the chair and falling to the floor.

Standing Up from a Chair

When moving from sitting to standing, do not push yourself straight up out of the chair. This frequently leads to falling back onto the chair. Instead, do the following:

  • Move to the front of the chair

  • Place legs wide apart

  • Bend knees so feet are under you

  • Place hands on the arms of chair

  • Lean forward so your weight is on the balls of your feet and your bottom begins to lift off the chair (nose over toes)

  • Push to stand


There are many strategies you can use to make reaching safer.

  • Stand in the "power stance" with feet wide apart and staggered. This allows you to shift your weight side to side and front to back.

  • Stand directly in front of the object you are reaching for.

  • Place one hand on the counter, wall, or other stable object while you reach with your other hand.

  • Avoid reaching for an object that is farther than arm's length.

  • Never lean your center of gravity (near the belly-button area) too far forward. If you reach for an object and your weight moves up onto the balls of your feet or your toes, you are too far from the object.

Backward Falls

Avoid stepping backward. Instead, step sideways. Make a safe turn, then walk forward. Do not stand directly in front of the doors you are trying to open. instead, stand slightly to the side and use a "power stance," with one hand on a stable surface.

Getting Up from a Fall

Falls will happen. But did you know there is a safe way to get up from a fall? If you have fallen and you are flat on your back, take a deep breath. Stay put for a minute and make sure that nothing hurts. If you feel ok, use these tips to get up.

  • Start to get up by first bending your knees

  • Once your knees are bent and your feet are flat on the floor, reach one arm out to the side

  • Reach the arm that was out to the side across your body while allowing your knees to fall over so that you can roll onto your side.

  • Push yourself up to a side sit

  • Push yourself up onto your hands and knees

  • Crawl to a sturdy piece of furniture, like a chair

    • Hold onto the chair with both hands​

    • Bring your strongest leg up in front of you so that your foot is flat on the floor under your knee

    • Be sure your legs are wide apart

  • Push up with your strong leg so that the foot is flat on the floor

  • Pause here for a moment to be sure you are not lightheaded

  • Slowly push your trunk up to stand tall

Did You Know?

If you have fallen and you cannot get up, call 911 and ask for a non-emergency fall assist. Even if you aren't hurt, Emergency Medical Teams will come to your house to assist you in getting up. That's why it is important to have a phone or medical alert system nearby so that you can make the important calls from anywhere you could potentially fall. EMTs can also assess and determine whether you may need to seek additional treatment at the ER from a fall. In most communities in Alabama, this service is free - but you might want to check with your local EMT group to see if there is a fee.

Disclaimer: The Parkinson Association of Alabama (PAA) cannot be held liable for any falls. While tips are provided to minimize falls, we cannot guarantee that falls will not happen.


Parkinson's Foundation. Fitness Counts. Chapter 5. Walking, Turning and Falls Prevention. Page 46-50. "Booklet."

Marie, Lianna. Chapter 47. Page 141. Part 6. Nutrition and Exercise. The Complete Guide for People with Parkinson's Disease and Their Loved Ones. Purdue University Press, 2022.

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