I’ve been attending a unique evidence-based fall prevention program titled A Matter of Balance, an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. My friend Elaine has been teaching the eight-week group-participation course in the Bay Area, and many of us in Parkinson’s Women Support are excited that Ellen Corman, MRA, and Manager, Injury Prevention and Community Engagement, Trauma Service, Stanford Health Care, presented this class to us at the Stanford Neuroscience Health Center.
The program includes group discussions and presentations about falling and fall prevention. In doing so, it touches on the general aspect of getting around in life now that you have Parkinson’s disease. It’s like group therapy in defining yourself now that you have a movement disorder.
Halfway through the course we talked about what activity we miss due to having Parkinson’s, and what we might do to fix it. No sports are specifically safe, but each one has restraints or substitutes that one can use to boost safety.
I changed the attendees’ names to protect their privacy, but I thought their stories were worth sharing. Their stories are real.
First to mention an ambitious sport in our group discussion was Kay who talked about how she’d like to ice skate again. She’s going to check into push-strollers also called ice horses provided by many ice-skating rinks as a safety precaution. Maria and Patty lamented how they’d like to snow ski so they could share family vacations with the rest of their families. They’re considering taking up snow shoeing to slow down the fast pace of downhill skiing.
John has been missing his hikes on steep trails that are no longer safe with his movement disorder. He likes the idea of creating a simpler hiking route and taking a family member with him. Our instructor told us a story about someone who liked to walk a dog, but they were worried about falling if the dog bolted on his leash. That person realized that if he walked beside the fence around his property he could keep his hand on the fence to steady himself from the tugs of an active dog.
What activity do I miss most? I guess I’d say walking. I miss plain old exploring the nooks and crannies of a new spot. What will I do to fix it? I’ve been hobbling around for 9 months now, getting MRIs, injections, physical therapy, exercise and other forms of relief. Walking poles help walking by shifting weight off the hip and knee to the arms.
A Matter of Balance has given me pause for thought about how important it is to share our hopes and dreams with each other to build confidence and continue to move and be active. Watch out for people with Parkinson’s!
For a list of A Matter of Balance classes throughout the Bay Area, see http://parkinsons.stanford.edu/fallprevention_classes.html