While a fall is simply an annoyance for some, it could lead to extreme damage for others. Over 50% of adults with leg amputations experience at least one fall in the past year, and over 40% of these cases result in an injury. Furthermore, most of these incidents occur at home.
So, what puts you or a loved one at risk of falls?
Many factors put one at risk. Some are out of your control, like how your leg was amputated, why it was amputated, and your age. But the good news is some fall risk factors are within your control.
How to prevent falls
One of the best ways to understand your fall risk is by consulting your physician, physical therapist, or physiotherapist. Fall prevention usually requires an individual assessment by a healthcare provider.
If you’re a new amputee, your brain may still be adjusting to the fact that you don’t have a leg to put down on the ground. So, falls may happen as you relearn how to move, walk, and regain balance.
At this stage, it is essential to be mindful and pay attention whenever you need to move. Other factors that can make you predisposed to a fall include:
Getting up too quickly after sitting or lying down.
Walking on a wet or slippery surface.
Getting in and out of the shower.
The feeling that your missing limb is still there. This is also known as phantom sensation.
Your healthcare team can assist you in developing skills that will help you to prevent falls.
What to do when you fall
Like anyone that falls over, you will want to get back up again. But doing this as an amputee can be more challenging. You may need to learn new techniques and skills to help you get back up.
Ask your physical therapist about floor recovery techniques. They can provide instructions on how to get up safely.
When you fall, it will most likely frighten you. However, it’s important to remember to take a moment to catch your breath and think about how you can get up safely instead of trying to get up in a hurry.
How to prevent falls at home
Since most falls happen at home, you need to start fall-proofing your home by installing grab bars in specific areas, such as wet areas in the bathroom or by the toilet. Ensure that handrails are installed on all ramps and steps, and put non-slip mats in the bath or shower.
You can also make a few changes to create a safer home environment. Remove mats or rugs on the floor, rearrange furniture, leave a light on at night, ensure no cords are lying around in areas where you walk, and wipe spills immediately.