The Challenges of Getting Out and About with MS

As Franklin D Roosevelt stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” or as I say, “The only thing to fear is movement while battling MS!” I know that most of us struggle at times when moving around, and yes, that fear of falling.

I’ll share a few of my experiences and adventures. Hopefully, you’ll learn from the fearful fun I have experienced.

The fear of movement and the risk

Mobility issues can impact all of us with multiple sclerosis, worse for some than others. Several factors contribute to our movement issues, as well as what we can do to limit falls. Factors that can influence a fall include leg spasticity, balance problems, along with numbness, fatigue, and weakness.2

All five play a part in my movement issues, although spasticity, leg weakness, and feet numbness are my biggest contributors. Movement has become the most concerning issue for me, plus the possibility of falling and causing an injury.

My biggest movement concerns are going up, and down, stairs, especially with leg weakness and sensory/foot drop in my right leg. To avoid falling I tend to take one step at a time and hold onto the rails, as well as using a cane to reduce the weight on my legs.

Another technique I use, and you might consider while getting up off furniture, is to stand and allow my body to adjust before walking. In addition, I pay close attention to the ground surface, wet floors, carpet mats, and extension cords. And I add nonslip strips in the shower.

Movement strategies and techniques

There are several strategies and exercises that can potentially improve movement and increase safety. Walking devices, a cane (which I use), and walking sticks are among them, as well as physical therapy. I find a cane helpful for stabilizing my balance while walking.1

If you have foot drop, which I do, there are options to help reduce or improve the control of your foot. They may include splints, braces, or also Functional Electrical Stimulation, which is a device the size of a pack of cards that you can hook to your belt. It triggers an electrical impulse to your legs to help lift the foot.1

Recalling one of my falls

I know you blinking your eyes and thinking “What’s up with this,” and I’m going to share a couple of my “rocking and rolling” adventures.

My first fun event was on a Friday while out working on our front planter. Enjoying the warm weather, getting a little sun, and cleaning up those bestie weeds that never go away. As I plucked those pain in the?, ok I’ll just say weeds, I stood up a bit too quickly. As I popped up like an Olympic Athlete my stable body began to lean backwards.

Well, I’m sure you know what’s happening next. Yep away I went towards the driveway backward. Having read about how to fall safely, I began to turn my body and protect my head while rolling on my side. As I mentioned it was Friday, trash day, and as luck would have it a trash truck pulled up.

The driver jumped out and rushed over to help me and asked if I was OK. To his surprise, I thanked him for coming to my aide and told him I was fine and just slipped while practicing my break dancing. Oh, the look on his face as we both began laughing.

Another fall

My next adventure took place at the gym after riding a recumbent bike. After finishing my ride, I rested for a few minutes as always. It was a very busy day at the gym with a lot of folks around. I stood up and began to walk to the weight room, not concentrating like I should.

As luck would have it, my drop foot decided it was time to add a little fun to my walk. As my foot dragged, I sprung forward as if diving into a pool, and down I went with a bang. Since the gym was crowded, in a few seconds several folks ran over thinking I had a heart attack. When they asked if I was OK I responded, “Yes I’m fine just wanted to lay down and rest a bit.” They smiled, laughed, and helped me up.

What are your thoughts on movement?

I mention these events to emphasize that, while out moving around, it can be helpful to use the devices available and pay close attention to how we move around. I find it helpful to concentrate and pay special attention to our surroundings and what we do while out and about.

I thank you for taking the time to read my articles, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how you handle being out and about moving around. Until the next time I wish you well, safe travels, and I encourage you to pass on an act of kindness.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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